Covid Ireland LIVE updates as Dr Tony Holohan makes December predictions and lockdown worry grows

Covid Ireland LIVE updates as Dr Tony Holohan makes December predictions and lockdown worry grows

Ireland’s reopening is already on the back foot with a number of new measures announced by Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Tuesday.

Despite promises that the country would not be going backwards, from Thursday we will do exactly that, with the following rules being imposed;

  • Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs will have a new closing time of midnight from Thursday.
  • People will have to restrict their movements for five days if they are a household contact and will have to take three antigen tests in a new policy change.
  • People will be told to work from home which NPHET have recommended.
  • Vaccine passes will be required to access theatres and cinemas but not at hairdressers, barbers or gyms.
  • Strict rules around mask wearing for indoor and outdoor settings.

Follow our live blog below for all the very latest updates throughout the day.

KEY EVENT

Dr Holohan’s warning

Dr Holohan provided a stark outlook on the situation with coronavirus if efforts are not made to control its spread.

He said that even though Ireland has a very high vaccination rate, the Delta variant is extremely transmissible and requires us to continue adhering to other public health measures to stop its spread.

There is “no silver bullet” in eliminating the virus, and vaccines alone won’t be enough to prevent transmission, he explained.

This is why NPHET issued the “difficult message” that “we all need to do more in terms of our collective adherence”, he added.

“If we look at the month of December, we predict with our modelling that we could have as many as 200 [people in ICU] and potentially as many as double that if we don’t make some progress in terms of cutting transmission,” Dr Holohan told RTE‘s News at One.

“None of those people are infected yet, not one person who is going to have this infection in December has picked up this infection yet, so it’s not inevitable.

“We think that about 2%, in other words about 20 out of every 1,000 of those cases that might occur – and that could be as few as 200, it could be a much bigger number of 200,000 cases – will end up in hospital.

“They will all be asked to isolate and their contacts will be advised to restrict their movements, that’s a lot of people in hospital, potentially 4,000 or more, it’s a lot of people being asked to isolate and restrict movements.

“None of those people are infected yet and at the time of year when none of us wants to be faced with going into hospital or having a loved one go into hospital, none of us wants to be advised to restrict our movements or self isolate.”

Cormac O’Shea

Stark figures from Dr Holohan

KEY EVENT

Dr Holohan’s warning

Speaking on RTE’s News at One, Dr Tony Holohan said: “Based on the modelling, if we continue, don’t see level of transmission fall….we will see a minimum of 1,000 people in hospital in December and could have many more than that.”

But the CMO has stressed “it’s not inevitable” and that people’s choices could help prevent disaster.

MORE TO COME.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health. (Image: Gareth Chaney/ Collins )

KEY EVENT

Health Minister on lockdown

The Minister for Health has refused to rule out a ‘circuit breaker’ in the coming weeks to stop the surge in Covid-19.

Stephen Donnelly did not entirely dispel fears that a future lockdown could be on the cards for Ireland before Christmas.

It comes after the Taoiseach announced new plans aimed at curbing the spiralling coronavirus cases reported across the country in recent weeks.

While the measures put in place are to be reviewed at the end of November, Micheal Martin has not ruled out recommending more restrictions.

The Taoiseach said the picture emerging across Europe and in Ireland over the past week “are a cause of deep concern”.

“NPHET did add the caveat that they said further measures may be required but they didn’t specify what those may be but obviously wants to give time for these measures to take their course and see what impact they have,” he said in an address to the nation on Tuesday.

“Nobody wants to go back, we want to try and keep society open and keep people working and the economy open but we can not guarantee what the outcome will be because of the nature of the virus.”

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Minister Donnelly did not completely dismiss the possibility of a lockdown before Christmas.

“We want to do everything we can to keep everything open. No one can answer that question right now,” he said when asked about a future shutdown on RTE’s Morning Ireland.

“We know from Covid here and we know from Covid right around the world, things can never be ruled out. However, that’s not where we are.

“In terms of Covid, every Government around the world will always say you have to keep all options open.

“There’s no question about that and certainly the modelling we saw on Monday night is very serious and added to that is NPHET did signal that they would be keeping it under very close review.

“They could be coming back to us and making such recommendations.”

Cormac O’Shea

The rules for hospitality

Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced a raft of new coronavirus measures on Tuesday as part of a shock U-turn by the government.

The Fianna Fail leader addressed the nation after Cabinet signed off on new rules and public health guidelines as Ireland contends with a surge in Covid-19.

It was expected that the use of antigen testing would be expanded, as well as broader mask-wearing and work from home directives.

However, the restrictions surrounding the hospitality industry took many people by surprise, including the thousands of business owners and employees whose livelihoods depend on the sector.

Many publicans were left blindsided by the decision to implement a closing time of midnight at bars and nightclubs.

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From Thursday, Irish pubs, clubs and restaurants will be required to close at midnight.

Under the restrictions, closing times for all on-licensed premises (except for guests staying in hotels) will move to midnight with all customers vacated from the premises by that time.

Hotels are exempt given the fact that over 8,000 people currently live there in emergency accommodation.

The rules have been described as a “closing time” rather than a “curfew” by Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys.

Cormac O’Shea

Latest from the Taoiseach

The Taoiseach said the picture emerging across Europe and in Ireland over the past week “are a cause of deep concern”.

“I’m taking this step by step and we’ll see closer to the end of this month what the scenario will look [like] for December,” he said.

“NPHET has put in a caveat also that further measures can not be ruled out to be very honest about that, future measures cannot be ruled out but we will observe and monitor the situation in the coming weeks.

“It remains to be seen whether these measures will be sufficient to hold back the tide of infection and hospitalisatio

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