Covid-19: Level 5 restrictions could be eased in two stages

ireland
Options for easing restrictions will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday
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Digital Desk Staff

The easing of Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions is expected to take place in two stages as we approach the festive season.

There could be a 'cautious' lifting of some restrictions next week before a further reopening in advance of Christmas — provided the number of infections does not rise significantly — according to The Irish Times.

There had been an increase in coronavirus cases but there is hope that they will continue to stabilise as 318 were confirmed last night.

The seven-day moving average now stands at 375, which is the lowest it has been since the beginning of October.

Government will make its decision in the coming days with increased pressure from industry groups to allow businesses to reopen for Christmas.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is likely to continue to recommend a cautious approach as the country is nowhere near their target of 50-100 cases per day. It was hoped that Level 5 restrictions would see case numbers fall to this level by December.

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Options will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday before a Cabinet subcommittee meeting on Tuesday evening.

The meeting is expected to include leading Nphet members including chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and HSE chief executive Paul Reid.

The three Government coalition leaders are likely to discuss the situation at a regular pre-Cabinet meeting this evening.

The picture for December could become clearer by Friday evening as a special Cabinet meeting to agreen a plan on exiting lockdown could take place by the end of the week.

Wet pubs

The Government is coming under increasing pressure from the hospitality industry to announce a plan for the lifting of restrictions in advance of the first week of December.

It is understood to be unlikely that 'wet pubs' — pubs that do not serve food — will be allowed to reopen.

Pubs that serve foods and restaurants could reopen and it is hoped they will be allowed to stay open if that is the case, rather than closing again in January.

Meanwhile, it is believed that further regulations on seating and table service could be required for pubs that serve food to reopen.

Over 470 hospitality and events firms argued for the sector to be reopened in a letter sent to Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Sunday.

The open letter said there was “no clear evidence for the sector to be treated disproportionately with regards decisions to open or close, compared with other parts of the economy”.

Meanwhile, the group responsible for planning the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine in Ireland will meet today.

Vaccine

There are hopes that a vaccine may be available within weeks after BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna reported efficacy rates of 90 per cent and 90.5 per cent in clinical trials.

This was followed up by Oxford University and AstraZeneca announcing their vaccine is 70.4 per cent effective today.

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Pfizer and BioNTech have already applied for emergency use authorisation in the United States, with approval possible in mid-December.

Approval in Europe could come the following month.

Chair of the task force responsible for delivering a vaccine in Ireland, Professor Brian MacCraith, has promised a strategy to inoculate the population “urgently and comprehensively”.

 

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