Ministers to push for wedding guest limit to be increased to 100

Nphet to discuss Delta variant threat; Niac advice on immunising 12-15-year-olds is ‘imminent’

Ministers will  push for the number permitted at a wedding to increase beyond the current limit of 50 guests. File photograph: iStock

Ministers will push for the number permitted at a wedding to increase beyond the current limit of 50 guests. File photograph: iStock

 

Ministers will on Tuesday push for the number permitted at a wedding to increase beyond the current limit of 50 guests.

A number of Cabinet sources said they believe that the numbers permitted should increase to 100 guests from August 5th, with Ministers set to argue that the limit should be increased given the high uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is also due to meet on Tuesday morning to discuss the threat posed by the Delta variant as case numbers remain high.

An additional 1,345 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported on Monday, with 141 patients in hospital with the disease, of which 25 were in intensive care.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan issued a warning about increasing numbers of patients in hospital.

“We are currently experiencing high incidence of Covid-19 across many counties. There has been a significant increase in hospitalisation over the last fortnight.”

Deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn warned that 87 per cent of cases reported on Monday were in those aged less than 45 years. “Please get vaccinated as soon as you have the opportunity to do so,” he said.

Vaccination campaign

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly meanwhile is to bring an update to Cabinet on the progress of the vaccination campaign.

Registration is due to open on the vaccine portal for those aged 16 and 17.

Advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on whether the Covid-19 vaccine rollout should be extended to 12-15-year-olds is said to be “imminent” and it could be ready as early as today.

Sources said the indications are that Niac is looking positively on the use of vaccines in the age group. However, it is unclear if the advice would be for widespread use in the cohort or if it would be more limited as in the UK.

Ministers are also set to agree to the full reopening of schools at the end of August and in September. Minister for Education Norma Foley will tell Cabinet of plans to ensure a safe reopening in this regard, including detail on the outcome of antigen testing pilots and a scheme to purchase CO2 monitors.

The monitors can measure the level of carbon dioxide in a room, which can indicate when windows and doors need to be opened to allow for better ventilation. It is understood orders for the monitors were placed by the Government a number of months ago and deliveries are expected in the coming weeks. The monitors will automatically be sent to each school, with the number of monitors sent depending on the size of the school.

Indoor services

Indoor services in pubs and restaurants restarted for the fully vaccinated on Monday, with some establishments opening their doors for the first time since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

Guidelines for the reopening were changed at the last minute after pressure over the weekend from publicans’ groups. It had been expected that every indoor-services customer would have to provide their details for contact tracing purposes, which publicans argued would significantly add to the workload of staff. This planned requirement was then changed late on Sunday so that only the details of the lead guest of a party would have to be kept for contact tracing purposes.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed that the changes were made for “practical” reasons.

“The various Government departments work on these [guidelines] in collaboration with the sector. I think they were done for practical reasons to try and facilitate as smooth an opening of the facilities as we possibly can, trusting the sector and trusting individuals to approach this sensibly and with some degree of vigilance.”

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