Further doubt has been cast over the easing of most of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on the Irish company as planned on October 22.
Those numbers have risen in recent weeks, with hospital numbers reaching all-time highs in seven months and health officials have expressed concern over the sudden change in behavior of the virus in recent days.
Yesterday An Taoiseach MicheÃ¡l Martin admitted he could not guarantee that all restrictions would be lifted as planned next Friday.
The incidence rate of Covid-19 in Ireland is more than twice the European average, according to the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC). The ECDC reported today that the 14-day incidence rate in Ireland is 372.25. The European average is 166. The death rate in Ireland is 70% of the EU average, which shows the positive impact of the highest vaccination rates in the EU / EEA area.
Nphet is due to meet next Monday and will advise the government on the way forward based on what he sees in the most recent Covid-19 data and trends.
Independent.ie has drawn up a list of restrictions that could be lifted if the government decides to proceed as planned next week.
October 22 is expected to see the end of:
Social distancing: Social distancing requirements in most indoor environments such as pubs and restaurants as well as during outdoor events such as matches and concerts will be lifted. Stadiums and outdoor venues should return to full capacity as it will no longer be mandatory to stay at your table or away from others in bars and restaurants. Limits on the number of indoor events and activities should also be lifted.
Masks: The requirement to wear masks outdoors and in indoor private places will be removed, but masks will remain essential in public transport, healthcare facilities and for indoor retail.
Religious and civil ceremonies: All capacity restrictions on masses, weddings, funerals and all other religious and civil ceremonies will be removed.
Private gatherings: There will be no limit to the number of people who can meet in the private houses / gardens.
Vaccine certificates: The requirement to present a vaccination, immunity or test certificate as a prerequisite for access to any event or public place should be removed. A vaccination certificate will always be required for people wishing to travel abroad.
Ireland has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and has suffered some of the most restrictive lockdowns, so where do we stack up against other countries when it comes to restoring freedoms?
Our closest neighbors, the UK, have acted swiftly on vaccines and swiftly on easing restrictions, and if Ireland eases restrictions on October 22, we will have a broadly similar situation.
Ireland will mandate the wearing of masks in certain public places such as indoor stores, while the UK does not require it by law, saying it “expects and recommends”. Masks will also be required on public transport in Ireland after October 22, when only some UK transport operators currently require them.
Ireland, however, appears poised to ease more restrictions than some of its EU counterparts.
FRANCE: In France, as in Ireland, people must wear a face cover on public transport, but must also do so in all indoor public places except those where health cards must be presented to enter. People must also have a health subscription (equal to our Covid cert) to make long-distance journeys by train, bus and plane internally. Ireland’s current plans are to remove vaccine certificates for entry to all venues and events. These are mandatory in France for any event bringing together more than 50 people in the room.
GERMANY: Masks must be worn in high traffic outdoor environments in Germany, while the plan is to ditch masks for most environments here, but in most parts of Germany the regulations are broadly similar to those in the ‘Ireland.
Public events in enclosed spaces in Berlin can accommodate a maximum of 2,000 people if all conditions are met. For indoor events, all participants must be able to show proof of a pending negative Corona test, full vaccination (both doses) or previous Covid-19 infection.
Outdoor public events can take place with a maximum of 2,000 people, but if more than 100 people are present, testing is mandatory for all participants. Events in Germany have the option of using a ‘vaccination recovery’ model where attendance can be increased if all participants have a vaccination or recovery certificate.
Matches in some German states are now allowed to contain 100pc of capacity, but others within the Federal state are capped at 50pc.
SPAIN: Ireland’s proposed October 22 easing of Covid measures will also exceed some of the current eases in Spain. In the Madrid area, outdoor gatherings at bars and restaurants are limited to groups of 10, and indoor groups are limited to six.
In nightclubs and nightlife venues in Madrid, masks must be worn at all times except when eating or drinking, and no dancing is allowed. None of these restrictions will be imposed on Irish nightclubs after October 22.
ITALY: Italy still requires a Covid digital certificate to access various public spaces including, but not limited to: seats inside bars or restaurants, public events, sporting events and competitions, swimming pools, gymnasiums, spas (where they are indoor).
Stadiums and venues are expected to return to full capacity from next Friday under current government plans and this is largely similar to many European countries, with match attendance limited to 75 percent.
So, although Ireland has suffered severe restrictions, it seems to align itself more with the British brand of reopening rather than some of the European superpowers.