The reopening of indoor dining is set to be delayed by at least two weeks, following a late-night meeting of ministers last night. Younger age groups are also set to be given a choice of what vaccine they will receive.
The full Cabinet is set to meet this morning to sign off on proposals agreed by the Cabinet sub-committee last night. After some stark figures were given by NPHET, the sub-committee agreed to delay the planned re-opening of indoor dining – likely until at least July 19th. However, it’s unclear whether the industry will fully reopen even then.
Based on advice from NPHET, ministers discussed a vaccine bonus and only allowing fully vaccinated people to dine indoors. It was a recommendation they weren’t expecting, and some ministers have admitted it will be a logistical nightmare for many businesses to track. NPHET also warned of a potential large spike in cases and increased deaths due to the Delta variant – however, ministers say this was a worst-case scenario forecast.
The senior ministers also accepted NIAC advice to allow under 40s to be given the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. However, for the first time, those age groups will have a choice of what vaccine they get. They’ll be able to opt for the mRNA options (Pfizer or Moderna) instead, subject to supply issues. It essentially means many people could be vaccinated sooner, and those not comfortable with the small clotting risks associated with the Astra or J&J vaccines can wait a little longer for an alternative.
Speaking after the late-night committee meeting, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said, “we will still continue to open up on a phased basis – it’s just how we do it. It was new advice… it was not quite expected.”
“Health officials are concerned even with the levels of vaccinations we have the transmissibility of this disease will still cause problems, right through the summer.”
Ministers will meet before 9am this morning, with a full announcement expected later in the day. Industry groups have expressed frustration over the possibility of a delay to indoor dining. However, a number of Irish scientists and doctors have voiced their support for a more cautious approach to reopening.