The Government will continue to monitor Ireland's Covid-19 situation to decide if reopening needs to be paused or delayed, the Minister for Health has said.
Stephen Donnelly said there is no specific measure or statistic that would cause the Government to pause or reverse the easing of restrictions.
The Minister said he hopes there will be no return to lockdown – but acknowledged the next stage of the pandemic is unpredictable.
“There’s one thing we know about this virus though. It has torn up global plans many times,” he said.
“The two big concerns I have are the rates on the variant we’re dealing with right now and I’m particularly conscious of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now.
“And secondly, a new variant and because of that it’s impossible to be 100 per cent certain.”
Transport not ‘about the science’
Mr Donnelly said the Government will be monitoring the data on outbreaks in schools and colleges, as well as the numbers of people admitted to hospital and in intensive care.
Looking at data “in the round” will allow the Government to decide whether reopening needs to be paused or delayed, he said.
Mr Donnelly said the return to full capacity public transport is not “about the science” and is not a “public health recommendation”.
He added: “It’s something that (Transport) Minister (Eamon) Ryan was very keen could be facilitated. We do want to get people moving around the country. The current restrictions had been putting a lot of pressure on public transport.”
We are aware of the risks, that’s why this is being done on a phased basis
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe also told RTÉ radio that the advice the Government received from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) “did not cover” public transport.
He said the decision to return to full capacity is necessitated by the return of schools and the phased reopening of offices.
“We are aware of the risks, that’s why this is being done on a phased basis,” Mr Donohoe said.
A huge sense of positivity everywhere, which is good for mental health too. Everyone has made sacrifices to protect our health service. We appreciate it. Covid hasn't been eliminated & if we can live our lives with caution, we can ensure society & the economy moves on. @HSELive
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) September 1, 2021
The Government on Tuesday unveiled plans to ease the majority of remaining Covid-19 restrictions.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the sectors still closed due to the virus can “now begin to hope again” as he set out the roadmap agreed by the Cabinet to reopen society.
HSE chief Paul Reid tweeted on Wednesday morning: “Everyone has made sacrifices to protect our health service. We appreciate it. Covid hasn’t been eliminated and if we can live our lives with caution, we can ensure society and the economy moves on.”
Up to 5,000 new Covid-19 cases could be recorded per day this month under a “central” scenario modelled by Nphet as the country further reopens.
With a return to offices due to begin on a phased basis from September 20th, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that workers will have little option but to return if an employer asks them to.