Words: Dylan Murphy
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly revealed this morning that NPHET gave the go ahead for nightclubs to open but with additional restrictions likely to be enforced such as reduced capacity and covid passes.
Last night, The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) sent recommendations to the government outlining their belief that the remaining public health restrictions such as mask wearing and social distancing should not be removed until at least February 2022. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said this morning that NPHET did however “essentially” say yes to nightclubs reopening but with “conditions around Covid passes and social restrictions”.
It comes after a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations in recent weeks, with 482 patients in hospital and 74 in ICU as of today.
At the end of August, the government outlined a plan that would see nearly all the remaining restrictions lifted by October 22, subject to 90 per cent of adults being fully vaccinated. This included nightclubs reopening and indoor entertainment at full capacity. Currently, 91.7 per cent of Irish adults are fully vaccinated, but chief medical officer Tony Holohan recommended restrictions should remain in place in the face of a quickly deteriorating epidemiological situation which increased anxiety for club promoters and the live events industry, who have planned for full capacity events this weekend.
Placing capacity restrictions on nightclubs could mean it’s not viable for many clubs to reopen and gigs such as Cork’s Jazz Festival this weekend would be placed under significant pressure given the calibre of acts booked for the festivities.
When asked about nightclubs this morning (Tuesday) Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said, “What I’m happy to say to you is the advice from NPHET is we can continue, they would advise, continuing with the reopening of society but doing so in a way that’s very cognisant of the disease, widespread use of the Covid pass…enforcement and use of the Covid pass.
“Essentially NPHET is saying yes to nightclubs but with conditions around Covid passes and social restrictions.”
The cabinet started a meeting at 9.00 this morning to discuss the recommendations and it is understood that they will permit nightclubs to open but with additional restrictions which could include reduced capacity events.
Ahead of this morning’s meeting the Taoiseach stated he was a “strong believer in antigen testing”, which is being considered to be used for close contacts. He told reporters last night that, “Some sectors have rolled out antigen testing and that is something that the Government will be considering as well over the next 24 hours”.
Elsewhere, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee approved the extension of the vaccination campaign to give booster shots to the over 60s.
The cabinet meeting is currently ongoing, we’ll update with more news as we have it.
Elsewhere on District: Rent to bye: Three Dubliners in the midst of the Housing Crisis.