After days of speculation, the Government is expected to finally be told within 48 hours whether public health advice is for indoor hospitality to remain shut beyond July 5th.
As the Irish Examiner reports, tonight ministers are accepting that a delay is likely and that it will be a case, then, of deciding whether pubs and restaurants should remain closed for an additional two or three weeks.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will meet tomorrow night and formulate its advice around the increased risk from the Delta variant before the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid meets ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday to make its decision.
The leaders of the coalition were in touch by phone on Sunday, with the Taoiseach Micheál Martin also in touch with chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan about the situation.
One senior minister admitted the country is “drifting towards not reopening."
A decision had been due on Friday, but the spread of the Delta variant along with pleas from the hospitality industry for a quicker determination have seen the Government fast-forward an announcement.
It is understood that if a delay is decided upon, it will only apply to indoor hospitality from July 5. It will not apply to the planned increase to 50 in the numbers allowed to attend a wedding or to the permission for four households to gather indoors.
The Government is also awaiting advice from National Immunisation Advisory Council on the use of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in younger cohorts. However, it is not yet known if this advice will come before Nphet's.
In any case, one senior source said freeing up those additional vaccines won't have any major impact until the end of July, due to the need to vaccinate older people.
While several government ministers expect indoor dining to be postponed, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said today that reports he is veering towards a delay are “not entirely accurate."