Video: Decision day for reopening, vaccine age risks and 'red-hot' housing market

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Reopening decision day

A delay to the resumption of indoor dining at pubs and restaurants is “not inevitable”, the Tánaiste has said.

An announcement on the reopening of indoor dining, which had been due to take place on July 5th, is expected to be made on Tuesday, with the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) meeting today.

Indoor hospitality returning amid the spread of Delta variant and with much of the population unvaccinated risks superspreader events, according to the HSE’s director of public health for the South East.

Meanwhile, infectious disease expert Professor Sam McConkey said he would like to see a cautious reopening of the hospitality sector — saying the question was how much risk and how many deaths were people willing to accept.

There could be 200,000 to 400,000 Delta cases with a mortality rate of one per thousand going on the modelling figures, he said, which would mean 200 to 400 deaths. What was the benchmark for acceptable risk, he asked.

Vaccine age risks

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There is no question that the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine should be given to young people, according to immunologist Professor Luke O’Neill.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is expected to meet today to consider the use of both the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for younger people, amid the spread of the Delta variant.

Currently, the two vaccines are not recommended for use in people under 50 due to concerns regarding rare instances of blood clotting linked to the jabs.

Other experts have said their preference is that the State stick with the current policy of vaccinating younger people with mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, if they are available.

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said this morning that the country will shortly be in the position of having excess AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines “but no arms to put them in”.

'Red-hot' housing market

House prices in Ireland are now 13 per cent higher than they were one year ago, driven by very weak supply and sky-rocketing demand, according to two separate reports published on Monday.

The latest quarterly house price report from MyHome.ie found that annual asking price inflation rose by 13 per cent nationwide – 10.6 per cent in Dublin and by 13.6 per cent elsewhere around the country.

A report from property site Daft.ie found the national average house price is now €284,000, 13 per cent higher than last year and an increase of €34,000.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Real Estate Alliance (REA) has found that the price of an average home in Dublin has risen by €1,500 a week since the end of March.

Ulster Bank loans

Allied Irish Bank (AIB) has confirmed an agreement with Ulster Bank to buy approximately €4.2 billion of the latter's performing corporate and commercial loans.

This comes after Ulster Bank owners, NatWest, announced earlier this year that they would be withdrawing from the Irish market.

A statement from AIB said the bank will acquire the portfolio "for a total consideration of €4.1 billion, equivalent to 97.63 per cent of par value, payable in cash funded from [AIB's] existing resources".

AIB intend to migrate the loan book on a phased basis over a period of 12-18 months to "ensure optimised customer outcomes".

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