1,380 cases confirmed as Nphet advice expected for nightclubs return and Covid certs retained

Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman has said there is a "strong desire" to ease restrictions from October 22
1,380 cases confirmed as Nphet advice expected for nightclubs return and Covid certs retained

Roderic O'Gorman said the continued use of Covid certs would be "a good option going forward", but added that "enforcement is important". Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The reopening of nightclubs from next weekend will be dependent on public health advice, a Government minister has said.

Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman has said there is a "strong desire" to ease restrictions from October 22, as had been signalled, however, he has warned that rising Covid cases must be considered.

This has been echoed by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys who warned: "It is important to say that we are concerned."

Both ministers have indicated that the Government will press hard for a further reopening from next Friday, however, Covid certs are now expected to be retained.

Asked if he believes nightclubs will be allowed to open, Mr O'Gorman said: "I think that depends on what we get from Nphet tomorrow. I would definitely like to see it happening, the nightclub industry has taken the longest hit from Covid now of almost 19 months shut.

"We're all concerned about the increased levels of Covid infections in the last two weeks, but I think there is a strong desire that we do want to - as far as is safe - continue with the reopening of society."

He said the continued use of Covid certs would be "a good option going forward", but added that "enforcement is important". 

He told RTÉ's This Week programme that there is growing anecdotal evidence that bars and restaurants are no longer asking for proof of vaccination.

Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman has said there is a "strong desire" to ease restrictions from October 22, as had been signalled, however, he has warned that rising Covid cases must be considered. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie
Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman has said there is a "strong desire" to ease restrictions from October 22, as had been signalled, however, he has warned that rising Covid cases must be considered. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

Ms Humphreys said the Cabinet will be making a decision on the remaining restrictions when it meets on Tuesday.

"We're not going back, that's important to say, but we were looking at what we are going to do regarding the remaining restrictions, we're going to look at Covid certs, we're going to look at booster vaccinations, and those are all of the issues that are being taken into consideration."

She said the Government wants to continue with a phased return to work, however, she said that remote working has been a "game-changer" especially in rural Ireland.

"Covid has changed the way we do things, so I want to see people being facilitated, which their employers are doing and there's a lot of advantages there," she said.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is also expected to have advice around boosters completed ahead of Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

"I think it has worked very well in other countries, for example if you look at Israel. They had a spike after the vaccination programme, and they have been rolling out a booster campaign and it has been working for them," Ms Humphreys told the Week in Politics programme.

She added: "The Government is not against antigen testing, we have set up an expert group, and they will provide us with advice on that particular issue. I absolutely think it is something that we should be looking at as well. It's all a part of the solution."

It comes as 1,380 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Sunday. On Saturday, the 2,180 cases of coronavirus reported were at the highest number since January.

Some 459 Covid patients are hospitalised, of which 74 are in intensive care. The number of people in hospital with the virus has jumped significantly from Saturday's figure of 406.

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