The Government is to announce the “roadmap” for the easing of remaining Covid-19 restrictions – such as those on the live entertainment sector – next week.
Here is what we know so far.
What is the ‘roadmap’?
The roadmap, which will examine how to deal with the next stage of the pandemic and through the winter, will be published following a series of meetings leading up to Tuesday, August 31st.
Who is meeting and when?
The National Public Health Emergency Team is meeting on Wednesday, after which it will issue advice to the Government on further easing of restrictions. The Cabinet Covid-19 sub-committee will then convene on Friday.
Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin was due to meet with stakeholders from the live events industry on Wednesday, but this has now been moved to Monday, to allow the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to attend.
What is up for discussion?
Public health officials and politicians will be looking at plans for a further reopening of society and easing some remaining restrictions during September.
The roadmap will likely include guidelines for the live entertainment and arts sector, and advise on how colleges and universities can safely resume in-person teaching.
Earlier this month, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said personal responsibility would be a key factor “as we move forward”.
On Tuesday, the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, gave a strong indication that Nphet would endorse plans for further reopening, saying he was “optimistic” the country would be in a position to move on from some of the current restrictions “in the near term”.
However, he warned that the next phase of the reopening would only be safe for people who had been vaccinated, and suggested that unvaccinated people should not be allowed to attend events such as the All-Ireland football final.
Live events have proven to be a difficult issue for the Government, with many in the industry citing a disparity between the current regulations for spectator sports and those for open-air concerts.
Last week Catherine Martin voiced her “disappointment” that her plan to reopen the events sector was not approved by Cabinet.
A source who attended last week’s meeting said: “The minister said she wrote to the three party leaders two weeks ago expressing her deep concern for the industry and unhappiness with the pace of reopening and disparity between sport and music events.
“She gave them a road map with dates to be considered at the Cabinet Covid sub-committee on August 6.”
Ms Martin was said to be “disappointed it wasn’t approved”.
What is the current coronavirus situation in Ireland?
Despite the high vaccine uptake, the State has one the highest Covid infection rates in the European Union.
Dr Holohan said that Ireland’s success in the vaccine rollout was not a basis for “optimism” at the moment, given the high rates of Covid-19 across the country.
Health officials on Tuesday said that Ireland will reach the peak of the current wave of Covid-19 at some point in September.
Professor Philip Nolan, who chairs the Nphet Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said: “We will approach the peak of this wave in September, but there is an uncertain trajectory between now and then.”
He said that health officials were predicting a “slow decline” from that peak.
Ireland is currently on track to reach between 2,000 and 2,500 cases a day by September. Prof Nolan warned that an increase in socialising could lead to a significantly higher number of cases in the weeks to come.
In recent weeks, Covid-19 cases have been largely among young people.
“It is at the moment predominantly the disease of young, unvaccinated adults,” Prof Nolan said.