Taoiseach promises ‘specific guidance’ as questions mount on amended reopening plan

‘There will be anomalies, it’s not one clear line across different sectors,’ Micheál Martin said

 Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD arrives for a government cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD arrives for a government cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Taoiseach Micheal Martin defended the Government’s amended reopening plan, announced on Tuesday at a press conference at Government Buildings, after the Cabinet gave its approval for the changes recommended by Nphet.

Mr Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar emphasised that there would be “anomalies” in the plan when facing questions by journalists about the changes to the October 22nd reopening plan, due to come into operation this Friday, but said that there would be “specific guidance” about how the plan will work in the coming days.

While the reopening is broadly going ahead, restrictions such as mask-wearing and the requirement for Covid certificates to attend indoor hospitality venues.

Mr Martin said there would be “different rules for different sectors”, though declined to get into specifics about how nightclubs would manage requirements for social distancing, saying there would be detailed guidance issuing in the coming days. Many nightclubs are preparing to reopen on Friday.

“There will be sector specific guidance in the coming days,” Mr Martin said. “I’m not going to get into specific details.”

However, he confirmed there would be no capacity limits for nightclubs. “What traditionally happens in a nightclub will continue to happen in a nightclub,” he said, to some laughter.

“There will be anomalies, it’s not one clear line across different sectors . . . We will work out with different sectors specific guidance, including nightclubs, and it will have to be practical.”

He also said there would be no capacity limits on big sporting events, nor would people be required to wear masks. “We would be encouraging people, but it’s not mandatory,” he said.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar acknowledged, “We’re not where we hoped to be” and said that Nphet modelling projections suggested that cases will continue to rise and peak around the end of October.

Hospitalisations will rise to a peak of about 800-1000 in mid-November, he said, with ICU numbers peaking at 100-150 between the end of November and mid-December.

“Nphet considered a full pause for a few weeks but they recommended against that on the basis that the situation wouldn’t be much different in a few weeks. So it’s going to be like this for a few months,” he said.