Ireland is on track to lift all remaining major Covid-19 restrictions on October 22nd other than the wearing of face masks, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.
Speaking in Slovenia, Mr Martin also indicated that the vaccine booster shot campaign will soon be expanded to those under the age of 80.
His comments come as the Department of Health said a further 984 cases of coronavirus had been reported in the State.
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According to the latest data, there were 343 people in hospital with the disease as of 8am on Wednescday, of whom 70 were in ICU.
There has now been a total of 5,280 Covid-19 related deaths in the State sine the pandemic began with 31 deaths reported in the last seven days.
Asked about the next date for reopening on October 22nd, Mr Martin said: “We are on track for that. I have been talking to the chief medical officer, the situation in schools has come back to summer levels, the chief medical officer is happy with that. That has stabilised.
“The vaccination levels have had a huge impact in terms of preventing severe illness, mortality, and excessive hospitalisation. That said we still will have to wear masks in terms of retail, public transport and healthcare settings.”
He said that the vaccine booster campaign is under way for certain categories like those in nursing homes and this will be expanded as we move closer to the winter period.
“At the moment the booster vaccine is being administered in terms of certain categories. The medical authorities will look at expanding that over the coming weeks as well in terms of the other age cohorts. That is a matter that will be given consideration to as we move closer to the winter period. It is all on track right now. We will keep a continuing eye on this.”
Mr Martin sounded a note of caution and said that he would like hospitalisation levels and admissions to intensive care units to drop.
“I’d like them to come down a bit more, if I am honest.”
The Taoiseach was speaking in Slovenia at an EU-Western Balkans summit. He said other Euroepan colleagues “could not get over the high vaccination level in Ireland. That is why we are in the position we are in terms of opening up.”
From October 22nd final restrictions are expected to be lifted including:
- requirements for physical distancing
- requirements for mask wearing outdoors and in indoor private settings
- limits on numbers at indoor and outdoor events and activities
- restrictions on religious or civil ceremonies
- limits on numbers that can meet in private homes/gardens
- certification of vaccination, immunity or testing as a prerequisite for access to, or engagement in, any activities or events (with the exception of international travel)
- restrictions on high-risk activities (for example: nightclubs)
Measures to remain in place include:
- self-isolation when people have symptoms
- mask wearing in healthcare settings, indoor retail and on public transport