Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly arrives for a cabinet meeting to sign off on the lifting of all covid restrictions from February 28.
The leaders of the Government parties Freedom agreed that NPHET’s recommendations to end almost all remaining covid restrictions should be accepted.
The final decision will be taken by the Cabinet this morning. If agreement is reached, as expected, the changes would take effect from 28 February.
This would mean that mask wearing in schools, retail settings and on public transport would be voluntary from next Monday.
It is likely people would still be advised to continue wearing masks on public transport, but it would not be underpinned by law.
Physical distancing measures in schools, such as pods, would also end next week.
NPHET itself will be wound-up too…
Leaders agree NPHET recommendations to end most restrictions should be accepted (RTE)
NPHET members from left: Director of Health Protection Survaillance center Dr John Cuddihy, HSE Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry, Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health; and Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health
Via Irish Times:
Two years and a month after it first met at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is to be disbanded.
In a letter to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on Thursday night following a meeting of the group earlier, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan recommended Nphet be stood down.
Though Ministers and senior officials continue to insist the pandemic is “not over”, the move is the clearest sign yet that the public health emergency it triggered is coming to an end.
Tony Holohan recommends Nphet be stood down (Irish Times)
Was it all just a bad dream?
Via RTÉ News:
Early indications suggest that a new closing time for bars, restaurants and cultural venues could be set at midnight from the end of this month or in early February.
A further easing of restrictions would then take place at a later date when the requirement on premises would possibly be scaled back to just checking Covid passes.
More people could also be allowed to attend weddings soon, while a gradual return to the workplace might get under way at some point next month.
There are also suggestions that outdoor sports venues could return to full capacity.
While no decision has been made yet about when Government might sign-off on any planned changes, many within its ranks believe it could happen as early as Friday.
NPHET expected to recommend easing of Covid restrictions (RTÉ)
Merrion Street, Dublin 2
Taoiseach Micheal Martin (above), Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (pic 3) and Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan (pic 2) arrive for a cabinet meeting where they are expected to sign off on new public health recommendations from NPHET regarding the Omicron variant.
Earlier: Staines On Humanity
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer
Via Irish Times:
The State’s public health team is set to consider mandatory vaccination, with a new paper being prepared by the Department of Health on the legal and ethical aspects of such a move…
…In a letter to Government last week, the chief medical officer, Tony Holohan, said Ireland had not yet reached the peak of the Omicron wave. Nphet recommended that all current measures – such as the earlier closing time for pubs and restaurants and indoor events – remain in place until the end of January.
Separately, minutes of a meeting of Nphet on December 16th reveal that mandatory vaccination will be considered by the team. “It was noted that the Nphet will discuss the issue of mandatory vaccination at a later date and this discussion will be facilitated by a forthcoming paper from the Department of Health on the relevant ethical and legal considerations pertaining to this topic.”
There you go now.
Nphet considers mandatory vaccination (Irish Times)
Government Buildings, Dublin 2.
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar arrives for a cabinet meeting to discuss the latest Nphet recommendations, including a 5pm pub curfew until the end of January.
More as we get it.
Government considers rejecting Nphet proposal on 5pm hospitality curfew (Irish Times)
Via Irish Times:
Several high-ranking sources said that the Nphet advice had been sprung on the Government, with no indications at a meeting on Tuesday between the Coalition leaders and senior Nphet officials that such a draconian stance would be taken.
Senior sources said that the proposed 5pm closing time could be extended until 9 or 10pm, but stressed that this would depend on the discussions between the party leaders this morning and the decision of the Cabinet when it meets later in the afternoon.
Several people involved in discussions on the issue in Government said that the Nphet proposals amounted to an effective lockdown of the hospitality industry. “This is a lockdown by stealth,” one said.
Backbench revolt against ‘lockdown by stealth’ appears to grow following shock Nphet advice (Irish Times)
Earlier: “It Would Be Closure For Many”
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, at the Coronavirus Press Briefing this afternoon
The Department of Health, Dublin 2.
Via RTE News:
Prof Philip Nolan said NPHET is now asking people to cut down on social contacts.
“If you are planning to see 15-20 people next week it would be much better to see eight, nine, 10,” he said.
“Reducing the social contacts by 30 to 40% or equally seeing how much more careful you can be in each of those social contacts,” he added.
Dr Tony Holohan said cutting social contacts and being more careful has worked before.
He said it not as if people have abandoned all precautions and if there was no suppression the R number would be 6 to 8 but people have taken measures to bring it to 1.4.
He said people should think about rationing “the kind of discretionary activities you might undertake“.
Dr Holohan advised against in participating in high-risk social activities with vulnerable people.
Socialising at greatest level since pandemic began – NPHET (RTÉ)
Will do, Stephen.