Covid-19 disrupts Government plans once again



If everything had gone to plan there would have been just a few pandemic related rules left in place next Friday.
However, the unflagging constancy of Covid’s ability to disrupt Government plans is evident again.
Somethings would have stayed the same after 22 October, though.
These include the requirement to wear masks on public transport and in healthcare and retail settings.
Those with Covid symptoms would have had to continue to self-isolate and a Covid certificate would still be needed for foreign travel.
But all other remaining restrictions were set to be lifted.
The limit on crowd numbers at indoor and outdoor events were envisaged to be a thing of the past.
There would be no cap on numbers at weddings and religious ceremonies.
Plus, large privately organised social events could take place again.
And the rules around physical distancing would also fade into the past.
Instead, within the Department of Health there are conversations taking place today about which of these measures need to stay in place for a little longer.
It seems inevitable now that Covid Certificates and masks will be play a central role through the winter months.
There will also be a new communications campaign warning of the dangers of Covid and the need to take precautions.
A rigorous inspection of the Covid Cert system, to ensure it is being enforced in the hospitality sector, will also get the green light.
One of the big debates centres on what Government literature has branded a high-risk activity, that is the reopening of nightclubs.
The Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he would like to see nightclubs opening their doors again but conceded much depends on the approach of NPHET tomorrow.
Indeed, almost everything tomorrow depends on the approach of NPHET.
There appears to be some worry that a suitably robust certificate verification system might prove arduous to put in place quickly at nightclubs.
There is the question too of the pause button being pressed for a fortnight to further review the data.
While this seems plausible there are some in Government who believe the case numbers will rise anyway and that won’t make the choices any more straightforward two weeks from now.
But there are some within the coalition who still believe the extension of bar and restaurant opening times to midnight is possible.
Ditto the chances of larger crowds being allowed to attend the soccer and rugby games planned for the Aviva Stadium this November.
Despite this lingering optimism though, all ministers talk about is the Government’s concern over the rise in Covid case numbers.
Furthermore, they are all adamant that a booster vaccination programme for the over-60s and health workers needs to commence swiftly.
But the only absolute certainty, for now at least, is that Government does not see any possibility that new restrictions will be needed this week to curb the spike in Covid numbers.



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