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Offices likely to be in a position to begin reopening in September, minister says

Minister Eamon Ryan said the return to offices will be “done on a staged basis”.

Image: Shutterstock/KornT

MINISTER EAMON RYAN has said he expects workplaces will be in a position to begin to reopen in September. 

Current government restrictions regarding Covid-19 outline that workers should continue to work from home where possible. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ryan said that “part of the health picture in this, as we’ve said right the way through, is also our mental health”.

He said mental health is an important part of the health of those workers who haven’t returned to the office yet. 

“It won’t be everyone back on 1 September, but I think we do need to start planning for that,” Ryan said.

“It’ll be done probably on a hybrid basis, it’ll be done on a staged basis and yes I think that return to work is also part of this gradual safe transition that we’ve been engaged in,” he added. 

Speaking yesterday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said there are “reasons for optimism” and that the continued vaccination programme may allow the country to remove the Covid-19 restrictions that are still in place. 

“We’re now making the vaccine available by way of registration for 16 to 18 year olds, and will hopefully in the next number of weeks be in a position to, as the government decided yesterday, offer registration to children between the ages of 12 and 15,” Holohan said.

“If we keep pushing on with the kinds of uptake rates we’ve seen in some of the older age groups, which by international standards is among the best in the world, that gives us a lot of reasons for optimism that the conditions we think need to be satisfied to allow us to move away from some of the restrictions that still remain in place could be met,” he said. 

Asked what restrictions he was referring to, Holohan said many have been lifted since the end of April but that some restrictions remain in place including the need for Covid Certs to enter hospitality and restrictions on the number of gatherings both indoors and outdoors. 

The CMO said all this “will depend” on observations over the coming weeks but that vaccinations are currently preventing “significant numbers of cases and importantly hospitalisations”. 

Live entertainment

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there are “a whole range of indoor activities” that need to be looked at with regards to the easing of restrictions. 

“Also, live entertainment which has always been a severe casualty of Covid-19,” Martin said. 

The Irish Times this morning reported that, in a letter sent to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin has warned that the live entertainment and music sectors are in danger of collapsing and a clear plan for their return is needed. 

Asked where Ireland goes from here with regards to the reopening of society, Martin said: “Where we go from here is, we look at all the remaining areas where we have restrictions, take public health advice and look to progressively open them back up.

“We do have to look at live entertainment, but let’s do it in a sustained way. That means we don’t go back.”

Minister Eamon Ryan said the creative industries are the industries that have been “the worst hit”.

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He said the government will start planning “in the coming weeks” to see how the industries that have been worst hit, such as cultural industries, can begin to return. 

“How we do this is important. We continue with what has worked, we’ve done it in a staged step-by-step basis, we don’t reverse. We do in it a way where if we open something we’re not going to have new restrictions and therefore coming back. It’s better to do it in a planned way,” Ryan said. 

With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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