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19th Oct 2021

Government to proceed with caution on easing restrictions on the 22nd October

Katy Thornton

Antigen testing seems to be the way forward as restrictions ease further at the end of the week

Cabinet met with NPHET yesterday to discuss the imminent easing of restrictions on the 22nd October. There was speculation during the week that some restrictions would have to stay in place given the recent rise in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations. Social distancing, using Covid passes, and wearing masks have all been considered to remain in place for the time being.

NIAC (the National Immunisation Advisory Committee) has also advised vaccine boosters for those aged 60 and above.

Today, Cabinet further discussed the advice from NPHET and have come to a decision on how to proceed.

Michéal Martin addressed the nation today to give us their update. He emphasised the tangible progress made by the nation when it comes to vaccinations and adhering to public health guidelines. However, he stated there has been a significant “worsening of the situation” and this is a “cause of concern”.

NPHET advised Cabinet to move forward with the easing of restrictions, albeit with caution. Therefore, restrictions will ease when it comes to indoor sectors, however, Covid passes will still be required. Everything that is already open will remain open.

What to expect on the 22nd October

Capacity limits on indoor events will no longer apply. Weddings can now go forward without a fixed capacity. Outdoor events will not require fixed capacity nor the production of a Covid pass.

There will be sector specific guidelines that are expected to come out in the coming days, to allow for places such as nightclubs to reopen on the 22nd. It is believed nightclubs will operate as normal, but people must take personal precautions if attending. These sectors must ask for proof of vaccination for patrons.

The return to work will continue on a phased and cautious basis.

Going forward, antigen testing is expected to become much more prominent – fully vaccinated close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases will be sent an antigen test to stay on the safe side.

Advice going forward

Michéal Martin gave three pieces of advice at the end of his announcement. The first was to wear a mask if indoors with other people. The second was for specific industries such as hospitality to continue checking for proof of vaccination. And third, he asked for those who hadn’t done so already to make arrangements to get fully vaccinated.

Leo Varadkar also encouraged those who attend events or find themselves in big groups to consider self-testing.

These measures are expected to remain in place until February 2022. There will be further guidelines for specific sectors in the coming days.

Header image via Shutterstock

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