Government begins work on new medium-term plan in Covid-19 era

Taoiseach pledges further economic supports for Kildare, Laois and Offaly

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: said  Ministers will outline which measures they intend to introduce later in the week.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: said Ministers will outline which measures they intend to introduce later in the week.

 

The Government has begun work on a new plan to deal with the challenges of Covid-19 for Ireland in the medium-term.

The new plan, which was agreed at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 on Tuesday, will be the successor to the current roadmap for reopening society but, unlike the current plan, will include no phases or prospective dates.

A Government spokeswoman said the new plan will be operable until the middle of next year. It will involve detailed contingency plans to deal with various situations that arise and will be flexible and adaptable.

The situations could include local clusters or lockdowns as has happened in Kildare, Laois and Offaly in the past week, or a winter outbreak that occurred during the flu season.

The new plan will be based on detailed expert advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team on the continuing threat posed by the pandemic in Ireland. That was conveyed to the committee by the acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn at the meeting on Tuesday.

As expected, the committee - chaired by Taoiseach Micheál Martin - gave the go-ahead for a serial testing programme in meat processing facilities, in direct provisions centres and the continuation of the programme in nursing homes.

The testing will initially be conducted on a weekly basis, with the first tests being conducted in the there counties affected by the lockdown before being spread throughout the State.

That will result in more than 60,000 tests being conducted each week. There are an estimated 40,000 people resident in nursing homes and some 6,500 people living in direct provision. There are also about 15,000 people working in meat processing plants throughout the State.

In addition to those measures the Cabinet committee also agreed that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe would begin to examine what kind of supports could be made available to affected business in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

The Ministers are expected to engage with business groups as well as local politicians during this process. Ministers will outline which measures they intend to introduce later in the week.

The meeting, which lasted two hours, was attended by the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, and Mr McGrath as well as by Dr Glynn. A number of other Ministers joined via video link including Stephen Donnelly, Dara Calleary, Simon Coveney, Eamon Ryan and Mr Donohoe.

Speaking after a Cabinet committee meeting, Mr Martin said: “We had an economic assessment from the Minister for Public Expenditure and from the Tánaiste in relation to the business side and again we looked at measures that could be taken to help businesses in the three counties that are subject to the restrictions announced last Friday and relevant Ministers will be meeting this week with a view to actioning some response in relation to that by the end of the week.”

In terms of the testing at meat plants, Mr Martin confirmed it will be weekly and there will be a “serial systematic” testing plan in companies, direct provision centres and nursing homes.

Mr Martin said officials told Ministers that community transmission is stable.