Covid-19: Another 1,382 cases confirmed with 355 in hospital with disease

Live events organisers call for 100% audience capacity as Cabinet approves reopening plan

Another 1,382 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed. File photograph: Daniel Pockett/EPA

Another 1,382 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed. File photograph: Daniel Pockett/EPA

 

A further 1,382 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the State.

The latest daily case number was reported on Tuesday by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

It said that there were now 355 Covid-19 patients hospitalised, of which 54 were in ICU.

The latest figures came as the Government agreed a new reopening plan, Reframing the Challenge, Continuing Our Recovery and Reconnecting, which will see the lifting of almost all restrictions by October 22nd.

The first date for further reopening is set to be next Monday, September 6th, when limits on crowds at sporting and cultural events are to increase.

From Monday, cinemas and theatres can choose between having 50 per cent capacity with a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated together inside, or 60 per cent of capacity with vaccinated people only. For outdoor events it can be 75 per cent vaccinated or 50 per cent mixed.

From next week all religious services can be held at 50 per cent capacity regardless of vaccination status.

However, Dan McDonnell of the Event Industry Alliance of Ireland said the proposals for capped audiences were “not good enough”.

“We need 100 per cent capacity . . . Why are they putting 75 per cent capacity in outdoor settings? We cannot understand where this is coming from,” he said.

He called for the Government to present “scientific facts” to justify the decision, but added that he would “reserve full judgment” until the official announcement was made. He also welcomed the early introduction of September 6th for the change of capacity limits.

Matt McGranahan, spokesman for the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland, said the proposals would facilitate a “huge amount” of people returning to performing, but he warned the “devil will be in the detail”. Permitting live music in pubs would see many musicians return to work “overnight”, he said.

“For small acts it is going to be great. They are going to get back to 60 per cent . . . As we get into theatres and productions and casts, it takes time . . . This industry needs 100 per cent capacity. It absolutely needs that to get the entire industry back to work,” he said.

Mr McGranahan said he anticipated that vaccination status and capacity caps could be dropped when most remaining restrictions were eased on October 22nd, and said producers on tight budgets would need to know well in advance what size of audience they could perform to.

He also called for financial supports to continue to support the industry, which he said would take up to a year to recover.

It is understood plans are being developed by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys and Minister for Arts Catherine Martin for a “last mile” payment to be made to people working in sectors, such as the arts, that will not immediately return to full capacity.

All-Ireland final

Meanwhile, the GAA has said it will not revisit plans to play the All-Ireland football final to a half-capacity stadium until it receives “concrete proposals” from the Government.

The senior men’s football match between Mayo and Tyrone scheduled for September 11th at Croke Park is due to proceed with 40,000 fans in attendance, with no requirement for them to be vaccinated.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan previously recommended against allowing unvaccinated people to attend.

A GAA spokesman said the association “won’t be making any assessment of our approach to facilitating crowds at our games” until the Government has firmed up proposals.

Fine Gael TD and former Mayo GAA footballer Alan Dillon said he expects Mayo fans would rush to get vaccinated if there was an announcement of increased capacity.

“At the moment it is still 50 per cent capacity . . . If they do move to 75 per cent capacity we certainly would get 20,000 extra supporters in, which would be fantastic,” he said.

There is a “short window” of time between the Government’s expected announcement and the match, which could make it difficult to make changes, he said.

“The caveat is we would need the mechanism to scan for vaccination certs. That presents its own challenges for the GAA and how they do this for a once-off game and could they possibly put that in place in the next number of days,” he said, noting that Tyrone fans will have been vaccinated in a different jurisdiction.

Dance classes

It is also anticipated that the Government will announce that smaller-scale activities, such as dance, pilates and indoor sports, will be allowed to resume from September 20th.

Phyllis Hayes, chairwoman of the Irish Ballet Teachers Association said dance school owners were “not happy at all” with the delayed reopening of their industry.

“We were given to believe last week that we would be opening with education . . . We would have had 12 kids social distancing in a class . . . There is no logic for why they should not be open tomorrow,” she said.

The return to school is a “crucial time” for dance and other extra curricular classes, she said, and the delay will cause children to choose other activities.

“They will go to camogie instead. There has been a lot of that already because people are choosing outdoor as they feel it won’t be shut down . . . We are at the back of the pack. I think they are just picking things just to be seen to be staggering the reopening,” she added.

Caution

Meanwhile, National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) member and Covid adviser to the Irish College of General Practitioners, Dr Mary Favier has said she is optimistic about the easing of restrictions, but warned that caution would become the “new normal”.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Dr Favier said that the high vaccination rates in the country would provide “a significant buffer”, but that even a 100 per cent rate would not be enough.

Ireland’s high vaccination rate, the second-highest in Europe, has been exceptional, she said, with Irish people “stepping up” to protect themselves and others.

Unfortunately there are still outbreaks occurring, she said, which leads to increased hospitalisations, while outbreaks in nursing homes will cause deaths.

Some 261,000 people aged 12-17 had registered for a vaccine by August 29th. The majority (238,000) of these have already been partially vaccinated, while 54,000 have been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the EU has reached a goal of fully vaccinating 70 per cent of its adult population, according to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. Additional reporting: Bloomberg

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