The chief medical officer says the levels of Covid-19 transmission in Ireland are simply too high.
On Saturday, the Department of Health was notified of a further 1,997 cases of Covid-19.
"Our five-day average suggests that we're seeing in excess of 1800 cases in a given day," said Dr Tony Holohan.
"We would be categorized as a dark red country according to the ECDC official categorisation because we've got more than 500 cases per 100,000 population in the last 14 days; it's an excess of 520 at the moment."
As of 8am, the number of people in hospital is 324, with 61 of them being treated in intensive care.
Dr Holohan is urging anyone who has not yet been vaccinated against the disease to register and receive their jabs as soon as possible.
We now know that the HSE has more than sufficient supplies of vaccine, and more than sufficient capacity to give you your vaccine, he said.
"If you haven't had the opportunity to come forward for your first dose, or if you've missed your appointment for your second dose so you haven't had an opportunity to come forward, it's not too late."
These latest figures come as the CEO of the Health Service Executive said the "finishing line" for the current phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme "is so close".
Almost 88% of adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with 92% having received at least one dose, Paul Reid has confirmed.
Posting on Twitter, the HSE boss said: "The finishing line of this phase of the vaccination programme is so close now.
"Walk-in vaccination centres continue this weekend for aged 12s & over."
Apologies, correction almost 88% of adults fully vaccinated & 92% "partially"— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) August 28, 2021
Children aged 12 to 15 will be able to get vaccinated against Covid-19 at walk-in centres around the country this weekend.
There are 19 clinics operating across 17 counties from Saturday, with 20 clinics across 18 counties on Sunday.
Health chiefs say they are keen to ensure people have the best possible access to vaccines for their children, with schools returning after the summer break.
Damian McCallion, the HSE's national lead for the vaccination rollout hopes parents avail of the opportunity before schools return next week.
"We're running those across the country, right throughout the weekend so today's Saturday we'll be running 19 clinics across 17 counties, and a further 20 clinics covering 18 counties, on Sunday," he said.
"We're hopeful that parents will see the opportunity to get young children vaccinated, prior to a lot of the schools coming back next week and we're hoping that people will avail of that opportunity this weekend."
Mr McCallion added: "We've tried to make it as simple as possible for people to access the vaccine, either for dose one or indeed for people who would bring up the number in relation to fully vaccinated for their dose two."
Further information can be found at HSE.ie
A return to offices and the resumption of indoor events will form the core of Ireland’s pandemic exit strategy, with most public health restrictions to end by mid-October.
The next phase of the Government’s reopening roadmap is being finalised after the Cabinet sub-committee met yesterday for four hours to decide on “a new era” of living with Covid-19.
Workers will return to offices within weeks under the plan, which will be finalised on Monday and signed off by the full Cabinet on Tuesday.
It will also see:
- The full resumption of religious events, such as Holy Communions and Confirmations, in September;
- Vaccine passports used to resume indoor entertainment and cultural events;
- A phased easing of restrictions on the number of people that can attend outdoor events.
The Taoiseach said the bulk of Covid-19 restrictions would not continue into November.
“I think September would be a significant month,” Micheál Martin said. “I don’t want to preempt my colleagues and the subcommittee, but we can certainly see a lifting of restrictions — some areas in terms of entertainment and theatre and so forth, the arts — in September.”
He confirmed that a return to offices was due in a matter of weeks.
“What the workforces have been saying to us is that they would like a timeline that they can begin to return to work. It would be a phased return to work,” he said.
Nightclubs will open at the latter end of the roadmap, due to the enclosed nature of the venues.
Mr Martin also rejected bringing in new legislation specifically for outdoor festivals such as Electric Picnic.
The Government will engage with the organisers of the Electric Picnic festival over the weekend, but sources say it is not likely the event will go ahead.
“There will be further engagement over the weekend across Government and also with the organisers of Electric Picnic,” a statement said.
However, one minister told thethat the event was too risky to take place this year.
The National Public Health Emergency Team has said it broadly supported the use of vaccine passports for the reopening of indoor events.
Vaccine certs will be required for those wishing to go to theatres to allow greater numbers to attend performances, with audiences currently capped at 50. There are also moves to loosen restrictions on numbers attending horse racing events.
Logistically, extending the use of the Covid passport — by ministerial order — is easier than introducing new legislation and remains the preferred option of ministers.
A senior Government source said that, although the Cabinet sub-committee meeting is in full agreement that the arts sector needs to “get back up and running”, it had been pointed out that Covid case numbers and hospitalisations in the North were becoming a worry.
The North recorded its largest weekly Covid-related death toll (43) in six months in the week up to last Friday.
“Case numbers all over the UK are rising, but the six counties in the North are the closest to us and they’re seeing huge hospitalisations,” the source said. “There is no doubt a risk there and one we need to be wary of.”
After the meeting, Eamon Ryan, the transport minister, said “now is the time to start unwinding” restrictions.
He said the broad outline of the plan had been agreed, but that specifics would not be finalised until Monday. There would be no singular reopening day, he said, adding that the plan would happen on a phased basis.
The meeting heard that 87% of Irish adults are fully vaccinated, with Mr Martin saying reaching 90% of over-16s could happen within a fortnight.