Video: Cabinet to sign off on restrictions easing, Covid support repayments, courts latest

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Restrictions announcement

An announcement on updates to Covid-19 restrictions is due to be made this evening.

Cabinet are meeting to sign off on recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), with Taoiseach Micheál Martin due to address the nation some time after 6pm.

It is understood Nphet have recommended the removal of almost all restrictions following the peak of the Omicron wave of the virus.

Happy hospitality

The hospitality industry has welcomed news that the 8pm curfew is set to be removed.

However, representative groups have urged the Government to allow the changes to take effect as soon as possible.

The need for Covid certs in order for customers to eat and drink indoors is also due to be scrapped, as might table limits, while bar service could be set for a return.

Expert warnings

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While Nphet's recommendations reflect a growing optimism that the worst of Covid may be behind us, health experts are warning that the virus has not gone away.

Assistant professor of virology at University College Dublin (UCD) Dr Gerald Barry said while the public should "start to live our lives", the Government must use this time as an opportunity to "bolster our defences".

Covid support scheme

Nine firms have re-paid a cumulative €21 million in Covid-19 wage supports to the Revenue Commissioners after voluntarily removing themselves from the Government’s main Covid-19 wage support scheme.

New figures provided by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe also show a further seven other employers voluntarily partially withdrew from the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and repaid just over €4.5 million.

Mr Donohoe revealed Revenue has audited 212 registered companies under the EWSS via their compliance programme to December 31st 2021, stating 77 of these audits have been finalised, yielding almost €1.5 million, while 135 are ongoing.

Restrictions challenge

The High Court has ruled businessman Declan Ganley is entitled to half of the legal costs he incurred for his challenge against the ban on attending religious services which operated at stages during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan made the ruling on Friday after holding that Mr Ganley had raised points of general, public importance in his action. These included the balance between the right to public worship and public health.

Mr Ganley is entitled to have half his legal costs, estimated to be a six-figure sum, paid by the Minister for Health, the judge added. Representative for thhe Minister had argued the court should make no orders as to costs, meaning each side would pay their own legal bills.

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