The National Public Health Emergency Team is believed to be considering a series of restrictions in the hospitality industry tonight, in an effort to reduce transmission of Covid-19.
Measures assessed should include eliminating the ability of people to reserve multiple tables, and also reducing the number to six people per table.
It is also believed that the NPHET is assessing the value of the restriction on opening hours of licensed premises.
Other measures thought to be under consideration include new limits on visits to households – perhaps three or four households.
It is also believed that the NPHET is evaluating whether to again recommend the extension of Covid certificates to other areas beyond the hospitality industry – something the government rejected a few weeks ago.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan will write a letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, who will then forward the letter to the Cabinet at large for a decision.
The government has yet to receive the letter from NPHET on further restrictions to curb Covid-19.
Earlier, the Tánaiste said the government would help businesses and workers negatively affected by any new measures introduced to tackle Covid-19.
However, Leo Varadkar told Dáil it was “prudent” for Cabinet to wait for NPHET to give its opinion before making decisions on targeted financial support.
He replied to Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy, who wondered why the government cut financial support when restrictions were announced: “Is this Darwinian survival of the fittest?”
She said that while the restrictions were “definitely necessary,” people were listening to public health advice and yet the financial backing to cushion the blow was either withdrawn or eroded.
She said cities and towns cannot afford to lose these businesses, but neither can they afford to keep their doors open.
Mr Varadkar said he fully accepts that people are “voting with their feet” and that “huge numbers are canceling” their events.
Ibec also called on the government to urgently step up financial support for organizations in the experiential economy, including by immediately reversing the decision to cut the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) rate.
“As companies recognize their role in supporting the removal of the Covid virus, such compliance means that the experience economy has suffered the brunt of the devastating economic impact of Covid,” said CEO of Covid. ‘Ibec, Danny McCoy.
He said the government urgently needs to tap into the strong tax revenues of the Exchequer and provide a much needed safety net for these struggling businesses.
“It is clear that the latest concerns about Covid have seen consumers become more cautious and many businesses have seen their bookings plummet for the crucial revenue-generating holiday season,” McCoy added.
“Ibec has already written to the government warning it that failure to provide the necessary supports risks massive closures and job losses across the country. “
With roughly three weeks to go before Christmas, NPHET is examining the levels of the Delta variant, what could be the potential impact of the new Omicron variant, the effect of the flu season, and more socializing during the holiday season.
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Dr Holohan said the infection rate has dropped, the public has responded to calls to reduce socialization, and the R number has dropped from 1.2 to 1.
Case numbers also follow better than the optimistic NPHET model.
A new model of the potential trajectory of the virus is in the works and should be ready early next week.
The NPHET said it suspects the Omicron variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant, but it is not yet clear whether it is more serious or how well the vaccines will work against it.
NPHET’s recommendations to government today will be considered by Cabinet next week.
Le Taoiseach said there has been a stabilization in the number of hospitals and intensive care and that there is evidence that the recall campaign is having a positive effect on serious illness among older cohorts.
However, Micheál Martin warned that the high levels of the Delta variant, coupled with uncertainty over the worrisome new variant, the omicron, present challenges.
He said it will probably take another two weeks to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Omicron variant.
Mr Martin told reporters this morning that the government will review the NPHET’s recommendations after its meeting today.
The Taoiseach added that around 40,000 booster shots were given yesterday and that last week between ten and eleven thousand people showed up for their first dose of vaccination.
Another 10,000 people showed up last week for their second dose, he said.
Meanwhile, there were 160 deaths from Covid-19 in November, a reduction from the previous month, new figures show. It compares with 205 deaths in October.
In the past week through Tuesday, 23 deaths from Covid-19 have been reported.
All cases had a date of death within the week and none were late notification from a previous period.
The average age of those who died in the past week was 72.
The figures are published by the Health Watch Center.
The latest data shows that the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has decreased from 31 to 547. Of these, 117 patients were in intensive care.
Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said the government recognizes the hospitality industry is paying the price for a positive response to public health advice.
Cathal Crowe of Fianna Fáil said a motion to reverse the cut in wage supports to employers was passed at the party’s parliamentary meeting last night over concerns for the hospitality and tourism sectors.
MP Crowe, who is the party’s spokesperson for tourism and aviation, said a cut in wage supports comes at a time when an aggressive fourth wave of Covid-19 leaves many companies facing a gloomy winter period.
The motion calls for the cuts to be reversed until March.
He said the Taoiseach Micheál Martin will meet with the affected sectors tomorrow.
Mr Crowe said targeted Covid supports are needed for those facing instability and layoffs.
He said that we must “support them and reintroduce certain payments to the full extent [that was there] when we first brought them “.
He said the financial capacity to allow this has been built into the budget.
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Meanwhile, the head of Covid-19 at the Irish College of General Practitioners has said that people’s behavior over the next two weeks will be critical to what Christmas looks like this year.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Dr Nuala O’Connor said that although the number of cases is stabilizing, there are still over 4,000 cases per day and the Delta variant continues to spread in communities. .
“We have to pay attention to how we socialize over the next couple of weeks and try to get [case] numbers down, so we can all have a more meaningful Christmas, ”she said.
“The virus likes it when we get together and we meet inside.
“We all have to live our lives, but just have to choose a little more carefully who we socialize with.”
Additional reporting: Mícheál Lehane and Tommy Meskill