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Roadmap for easing of Covid restrictions set to be published on 31 August

“We will be going into a new era of the management of Covid-19,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this evening.

Image: Shutterstock/Timothy Dry

IRELAND’S NEW ROADMAP for the easing of Covid-19 restrictions is expected to be published at the end of the month. 

It is understood that the plan will be published on 31 August following a series of meetings by public health officials next week. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will hold a meeting next Wednesday to discuss the easing of restrictions with the government which will be followed by a meeting of the Covid-19 sub-committee next Friday. 

It is expected that officials will then work through the proposed plan ahead of the announcement on 31 August. 

The new roadmap is expected to look at how we deal with the next stage of the pandemic from September and through winter. 

It will also likely look at a further easing of restrictions later in September. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News this evening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the roadmap will be “comprehensive”. 

“We will be going into a new era of the management of Covid-19, but there will always be a need for personal responsibility in the coming months,” he said. 

He added that today’s meeting was not about drafting this roadmap, but “to get a sense of where we are now” in relation to the Delta variant. 

“The incidence is high in Ireland, very high relative to other European countries, and also the vaccination rate is very high,” he said. 

“The overwhelming message from today’s meeting is that the vaccination is highly impactful in giving protection as it is preventing people from going into hospital and ICU.” 

He added that the government need to continue to proceed with the reopening of society “in a measured way” and by giving clarity to the sectors “like the entertainment industry” who have yet to reopen. 

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said today that the Government “is very aware that it’s been extraordinarily stressful and difficult” for the sector, and promised to provide clarity “before the end of the month”. 

His comments came after Culture Minister Catherine Martin told a meeting of live entertainment representatives yesterday to lobby her Cabinet colleagues for support in the sector.

The meeting ended without a return date for live events agreed, and representatives of the industry left disappointed.

At today’s Cabinet meeting, it was noted that Covid-19 numbers have been higher in recent days. 

This was attributed to the impact of indoor hospitality resuming across the country, as well as other measures that have been introduced. It was also put down to the fact that we are “naturally social people” in Ireland. 

Other issues discussed by Cabinet today included the prospect of employees returning to the workplace, and how individual sectors can utilise antigen testing themselves to further the reopening of society. 

It is expected that Government will look at a new “Winter Plan” to help ease pressure on the HSE in the months ahead. 

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) will also continue to assess vaccine boosters over the coming weeks. 

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Speaking on Tuesday, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that NIAC has advised that boosters be given around the same time as the flu shot.

“That would normally happen around the last week of September, first week of October,” Donnelly said.

“NIAC are currently looking at the details of any potential booster campaign and I expect to receive an advice from that next week from NIAC, which will allow us to proceed with more detailed planning and give people a sense of when they can expect a booster and which group,” he said.

It is also expected that the numbers attending Covid-19 vaccination centres will start to tail off from mid-September due to the high numbers of people who are already vaccinated.

It comes as HSE Chief Paul Reid said that 72,000 12-15 year olds have received a Covid vaccine since the programme opened up to that cohort. 

Speaking at today’s briefing, Reid said 124,000 people in this age group have been registered for a vaccine.

84% of adults have been fully vaccinated against Covid, while 90% of adults have received at least one vaccine dose. 

Around 6.49 million doses have been administered to date. 

Additional reporting by Christina Finn. 

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