Fully reopening the hospitality sector, including nightclubs, and allowing mass gatherings and international travel are the next priorities for the Government, a confidential Cabinet memo reveals.
Four main categories identified by ministers have been described as “too high-risk” to be implemented in May or June, but are now likely in July.
Micheál Martin has said foreign travel and indoor hospitality will be possible before August. While indoor hospitality constitutes what Nphet calls a “high-risk activity”, the Taoiseach hopes it will be possible in July. On international travel, he said most of Europe will have a similar vaccination rate, so holidays abroad will be possible by July.
Speaking last night, several ministers from across the Coalition said such a clear signal from the normally “hyper-cautious” Taoiseach is a strong indication that it will happen.
According to the memorandum approved by ministers, the four main priorities identified for a decision by the end of June are:
- Indoor hospitality (restaurants, bars, nightclubs, casinos);
- Indoor team/group sports, including matches, training, and exercise classes;
- Mass gatherings/events (including spectators), both indoors and outdoors;
- International travel.
However, despite the upbeat mood, the Cabinet has been warned that self-reported compliance with public health guidelines has fallen rapidly since a peak in late January, and is now at its lowest level since July 2020.
The fall in compliance comes amid a strong warning from chief medical officer Tony Holohan that Donegal needs to “turn around” its high Covid-19 infection rate or face another localised lockdown.
The incidence rate in Donegal is 293.4 per 100,000 population, more than double the national average.
Dr Holohan said the actions driving the high rates in Donegal are those that “even the dogs on the street” know should not be happening.
“It’s safe to say that if we had anything like the situation that pertains in Donegal pertaining to the rest of the country, we would not be recommending these [reopening] measures.,” he said. "We are genuinely concerned about the situation."
As well as Donegal, there are concerns about high case numbers in north Dublin and Kildare.