Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaking at Government Buildings in Dublin on Tuesday. RollingNews.ie photo.
By Anthony Neeson
The Irish government's Cabinet has agreed the postponement for the reopening of indoor hospitality next week.
Speaking on the steps of Government Buildings on Tuesday afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the country was in a race between the variant and the vaccines.
He said proceeding with the next stage of reopening on July 5 carried a real risk of more illness and deaths due to the Delta variant.
Overnight, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) warned the government of more that 2,000 deaths by the end of September if the government proceeded with its plans. The most optimistic modeling scenario from Nphet would set 165 deaths.
Mr. Martin said the government is working on a plan whereby people who had been fully vaccinated, or had recently recovered from Covid-19, would be able to dine and drink indoors. However, it would take until July 19 before a new system is devised to verify vaccination and immunity.
The taoiseach said that when a sector or an activity reopens the government wants to ensure that it stays open.
“Last night we were advised by public health officials in very stark terms that proceeding as planned on fifth of July carries a real risk of greatly increased spread of the virus, increased hospitalizations, illness and death.
“Last night and this morning the government has examined this advice and agreed to delay some elements of the further reopening scheduled for the fifth of July.”
Martin said there will be an increase in the number of people attending outdoor events. The number of guests attending weddings can increase to fifty as planned, he added.
“However, a return to other indoor activities including hospitality will be delayed.”
Martin said it was Nphet’s advice that indoor hospitality should be limited to those who have been fully vaccinated, or have recovered from Covid infection.
“Over the course of the coming weeks government will work urgently with the relevant sectors to agree a practical and workable approach. The simple truth is that we are in a race against the variants and the vaccines."
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly described the government measures as “absolutely bananas… discriminatory, unenforceable, shocking stuff. Amateur hour.”
Kelly added that the measures say to younger people that they are not allowed to go out to a pub or a restaurant, but will instead by expected to serve older people who are out enjoying themselves this summer, even though they themselves will not be vaccinated.