Video: July reopening uncertainty, clarity for hospitality, Sea Sessions lineup

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Kenneth Fox

Vaccines for young people

The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should be reconsidered for younger age groups to fight the spread of the Delta variant, the Taoiseach has said.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan is to consult with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on the issue, which previously had advised they not be given to people under 50 over concerns around rare incidents of blood clotting.

Speaking at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Friday, Mr Martin said the “balance of risk” had changed due to the Delta variant.

Syrian refugees

European Union leaders have given the go-ahead to plans to give Turkey another €3 billion over the next few years to continue providing assistance to Syrian refugees on its territory and to help the country boost border controls.

“It’s about additional funds of three billion euros, then afterwards also funds for Lebanon and Jordan,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. She said the plan, drawn up by the EU’s executive branch, “will soon be formally endorsed”.

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More than one million migrants entered the EU in 2015, many of them fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq. The arrivals through Turkey overwhelmed facilities in the Greek islands, and sparked one of the EU’s biggest-ever political crises.

To persuade Turkey to stop people leaving its territory, the 27-nation bloc offered the country six billion euros for Syrian refugees and the prospect of fast-track EU membership talks and visa-free travel in Europe for its citizens. Arrivals quickly dropped to a relative trickle, and the EU is keen to update the arrangement.

Indoor reopening

A delay to the return of indoor hospitality is looking increasingly likely, as Government and official sources indicated the full return of pubs and restaurants will be pushed back from the planned date of July 5th.

However, sources told The Irish Times that there are also concerns at senior levels of Government that a delay may lead to further extensions, with the next window for more reopening as late as autumn.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is currently working on advice to be presented to Government next week.

It is believed the more transmissible Delta variant will account for more than half of infections by the middle of July, and 90 per cent in early August.

Clarity for hospitality sector

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The chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), Adrian Cummins, has called for a decision on Monday at the latest about any possible delay to the easing of restrictions for indoor dining.

Mr Cummins told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the RAI has requested a meeting with the Government to discuss speculation about a pause or delay in the reopening of the sector.

he possibility of reopening was “moving away towards the horizon,” he added.

The sector needed an early decision as it could cost a restaurant €20,000 to restock, which was a huge financial outlay, he said. A lead-in time was necessary when it came to ordering perishables, he further explained.

Cancelled 999 calls

The vice president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has questioned why there was a six-month delay in the reporting to the Policing Authority about the cancellation of 999 calls.

Brendan O’Connor told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that he did not understand “the narrative” or suggestion that victims or vulnerable people had dialled 999 and that gardaí did not respond.

“I don’t understand how that situation could arise. We’re an emergency service, generally we would drop everything and respond.”

Mr O’Connor pointed out that every call was recorded, and he wanted the review to “delve into the detail” into each and every call to see what had happened. “What sort of calls were cancelled, why were they cancelled?”

Sea Sessions festival

The first batch of performers for next year's Sea Sessions festival in Co Donegal have been announced ahead of the release of early bird tickets next Tuesday.

Kodaline top the bill, with Lyra, Joel Corry, and All Tvvins also due to perform over the three days, scheduled for June 17th-19th, 2022.

The festival, which has been running 2008, was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and organisers announced earlier this year that the 2021 festival would also be postponed due to ongoing restrictions on live events and large gatherings.

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