Coronavirus: Move to phase two set for green light

The Government is expected today to give the go-ahead for Ireland to move to phase two of the road map for reopening the economy, with some additional measures under consideration.
Coronavirus: Move to phase two set for green light

- with reporting from Neil Michael

The Government is expected today to give the go-ahead for Ireland to move to phase two of the road map for reopening the economy, with some additional measures under consideration.

Ireland is expected to move to the next three-week stage of the plan on Monday, with ministers to consider allowing larger retail stores to open if they have a street-level entrance. This move will allow the likes of Ikea, some Penneys stores and larger high street outlets to open from Monday.

The original plan allowed for "small retail outlets with a small number of staff" to open "on the basis that the retailer can control the number of individuals that staff and customers interact with at any one time".

However, the National Public Health Emergency Team has given the government the go-ahead to allow all stores with their own entrances at street level to open - provided they can adequately adhere to physical distancing.

For some stores, this will mean that multiple entrances are used to create multiple stores, segregated within.

NPHET has also given Cabinet the green light to approve the opening of some playgrounds - provided the local authority can ensure they are regularly cleaned.

It is understood that the Government is keenly aware of "wellness" moves alongside the reopening of the economy. Ministers have argued that measures which are focused at allowing people do more outside of economic activity. To that end, discussion is also expected today on children's summer camps.

Cabinet will meet today having met in Dublin Castle last night in person - the first time all members of the government were in the same room since the beginning of the lockdown - to discuss non-Covid issues.

The moves come as the chief medical officer Tony Holohan said he is concerned about house parties and he also urged people to listen to his advice above and beyond what airlines like Aer Lingus might tell us about booking summer holidays.

Speaking at last night's latest Covid-19 briefing, Dr Holohan revealed a continued decline in prevalence in Ireland of the virus.

He said a total of 5 people with Covid-19 have died in the past 24 hours, and there have been 38 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

This brings to 25,142 the total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

His colleague Philip Nolan said the country is seeing “a slow decline in all cases and all settings”.

We are obviously watching the number of deaths per day Looking back over the course of the pandemic, we are now at very low numbers as you can appreciate from these briefings and very low numbers of deaths in residential settings at this point.

“Not only are the numbers in hospital low but the numbers of admissions to hospitals have now been in single figures for two weeks in terms of admissions to hospital and numbers of people in hospital and in terms of admissions to intensive care, and numbers of people in intensive care.”

But when asked if he had any concerns, Dr Holohan said his biggest concern is “house parties being organised with abandon as if we weren’t in a pandemic”.

“We are not at the stage where those activities can take place,” he said.

“It’s the unseen activities that give us the most concern.

“And this is where public behaviour is getting ahead of our advice.” And he added that anybody who is convinced they can’t get Covid-19 at certain house parties among close friends, he said this is “people rationalising and getting ahead of the behaviour we are recommending”.

He said: “There are really good public health reasons and it is important to recognise the conditions that can spread.

“You can choose not to attend (house parties).

“If you see a crowd, stay away.”

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