Covid-19: 3,578 new cases reported as Holohan says testing ‘essential’ for those with symptoms

Hospitality sector asks for tougher sanctions for non-compliant venues

A further 3,578 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the State. As of 8am on Tuesday, there 520 people in the country’s hospitals with the virus with 83 of those in intensive care units.

More than 44,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Ireland in the last 14 days.

“The volume of disease in the community is really very high and represents a significant risk to those who are most vulnerable in our society,” chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said.

Hospital Report

“We need to continue to use all of the tools available to us to protect ourselves and others. By layering all of the public health measures with which we are now so familiar, we can help to break the chains of transmission.

“ Ensure that you are washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask on public transport and in other social settings, try to meet others outdoors and ensure that indoor spaces are well-ventilated. And of course it remains essential that anyone with symptoms isolates and gets tested.”

No fresh restrictions

Fresh restrictions on the hospitality sector are not on the cards before Christmas but Government officials have warned that they are concerned about a lack of compliance with Covid-19 certs particularly among younger age groups.

A meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon between senior officials and members of the hospitality industry where the industry said there was a need to impose tougher sanctions and fines on venues that are found not be complying with public health requirements.

It is understood there was some concern before the meeting that rising Covid case numbers could raise the spectre of restrictions being reimposed but sources present at the meeting said they now do not feel that this is the case and that there is no indication of this being the plan in the coming weeks.

It is understood that Government officials were somewhat resistant to imposing a system of new sanctions on pubs, restaurants and other venues but that industry made a strong case for it to happen.

On foot of multiple requests, the Government told stakeholders that they would consider the matter further.

Sources said the main topic of concern seems to be the 18-24 age group and a lack of compliance with the requirement for Covid-19 certs in places such as nightclubs. A new communication plan will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Speaking after the meeting, a spokesman for the Restaurants Association of Ireland said they had a “productive, full and frank meeting with deputy CMO Dr Ronan Glynn, Government officials from the departments of Taoiseach, Health, Tourism and Enterprise plus HSE & HSA.”

“The hospitality industry representatives collectively has called for stronger sanctions including penalties, fines and closures for hospitality businesses flouting the regulations and breaching Covid-19 guidelines.

“Government officials engaged with hospitality representatives in a proactive and informative manner in terms of presentation of public health communication plans, Covid health data and hospital capacity as we head into the winter period.”

The Cabinet also discussed the Covid-19 situation on Tuesday morning. Ministers were told the next two weeks will be key in determining the future trajectory of the disease and that Government is closely watching the numbers in hospital and intensive care.

Tuesday’s meeting comes after it emerged that compliance rates with Covid-19 measures have been falling in recent weeks. The information was contained in research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

The number of people not having their Covid-19 passes checked in pubs rose from 21 per cent to 37 per cent, and despite a rise in people dining indoors in restaurants, more than one in three or 34 per cent of diners were not asked for digital Covid certs, according to the latest ESRI survey.

On Monday, a further 3,161 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the State with almost 500 people in hospital, and 78 in intensive care units.

It was the seventh day in a row that daily new cases exceeded 3,000.