COVID-19: Reframing the Challenge, Continuing our Recovery & ReconnectingOctober 19, 2021 ADMIN 0
Today, following public health advice, Government has agreed that the remaining aspects of the hospitality, entertainment and night-time economy sector can reopen only with the full range of protective measures in place and the wide and robust implementation of the COVID-19 pass. This will allow us to move forward carefully with Ireland’s plan for the next phase of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 infection rates are once again increasing along with hospitalisation and ICU admissions. However, thanks to the hard work and exceptional support of the Irish people for the Vaccination Programme, we are in a position to continue our careful and gradual approach to re-opening.
We will need to continue to monitor the ongoing risk from the disease and, including through testing and contact tracing as appropriate.
We will all need to take steps individually and collectively in our everyday lives to keep this risk under control, in particular by:
- acting fast, isolating and getting tested if we have symptoms;
- wearing our face coverings where appropriate;
- making sure that indoor spaces are well ventilated;
- maintaining adequate social distancing whenever appropriate; and
- covering our coughs and sneezes and keeping our hands clean.
From October 22:
In line with public health advice, the remaining aspects of the hospitality, entertainment and night-time economy sector can reopen only with the full range of protective measures in place and the wide and robust implementation of the COVID-19 pass. The further easing of restrictions planned for 22nd October can proceed with the extension of some non-pharmaceutical interventions including use of COVID-19 pass (as set out below) in light of the high level of disease in the community at this point in time and the uncertain trajectory of the disease.
Protective measures include:
- Requirement for COVID-19 pass (vaccine or recovery certificate) for indoor hospitality and events;
- Social distancing;
- Face masks (can be removed for consumption of food or alcohol as appropriate);
- Table service only in hospitality settings (max of 10 adults per table, and max 15 including children);
- Collection of contact tracing data;
- For indoor live music, drama, live entertainment and sporting events audience/spectators should be fully seated (standing permitted at your seat);
- Specific sectoral guidance will be developed for nightclubs setting out appropriate protective measures. This will involve COVID-19 passes, contact tracing data collection and wearing of facemasks except when eating, drinking and dancing;
- COVID-19 passes and fixed capacity limits will not apply for outdoor events. However, sectors should ensure appropriate protective measures are in place;
- Organisers of indoor and outdoor group activities should ensure that appropriate protective measures are in place, and where indoor groups have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people indoors, pods of 6 should apply. Fixed capacity limits will not apply to these indoor and outdoor group activities;
- Religious services and weddings can proceed without capacity limits but with all other protective measures remaining in place; and
- Return to workplaces will continue on a phased and cautious basis for specific business requirements.
Sector-specific guidance and protocols, including with regard to work, hospitality, cultural and sporting events will be reviewed and strengthened where appropriate. Compliance activities will be reinforced by relevant bodies, and through wider public and stakeholder communications. A meeting of the Regulator’s Forum will be convened to discuss further with relevant Departments and Agencies.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has recommended that a booster dose of Comirnaty® (Pfizer) vaccine be offered to all those aged 60 to 79 years who have completed their primary course with any COVID-19 vaccine. The booster dose should ideally be given six months (with a minimum interval of five months) following completion of the primary vaccination schedule.
The Department of Health and the HSE will work to implement these recommendations as soon as possible. NIAC will continue to examine new evidence regarding booster doses in other groups.
NPHET has recommended that:
- subject to operational feasibility, the HSE should implement a programme of COVID-19 antigen testing (with PCR confirmation of positive cases) for people who are identified as fully vaccinated close contacts of a confirmed case and who do not have any symptoms.
- the Rapid Testing Expert Advisory Group be requested to provide a view as to the potential utility of voluntary self-testing by asymptomatic individuals who plan to engage in high-risk behaviours and activities, such as going to nightclubs.
- the Rapid Testing Expert Advisory Group be requested to examine the potential role and feasibility of rapid testing as a component of the COVID-19 pass for those for whom, on medical grounds, it is not been possible to get fully vaccinated.
The current enhanced illness benefit payment arrangements for COVID-19 will remain in place. This benefit is available at a rate of €350 a week, with no waiting days, for employees and self-employed people who are certified by a registered medical practitioner as diagnosed with COVID-19 or a probable source of infection of COVID-19.
- to continue pre-boarding obligations placed on travellers to provide evidence of a valid PCR test result, unless exempt (such as vaccinated or recovered or children under 12) and the obligation on carriers to check PCR test results and to deny boarding to passengers who do not have acceptable documentation to continue
- those who do not have a PCR test on arrival (unless exempt through vaccination or recovery, for example) will be required to take a test within 36 hours of arrival and present evidence to An Garda Síochána.
- requirement for completed ePLF (Passenger Locator Form) to continue but that the obligations placed on passengers relating to provision of updated address and contact details be revoked;
- the mandatory hotel quarantine system is no longer considered necessary and will be wound down
mandatory home quarantine requirements to be removed.