THERE WILL be no major easing of restrictions in Ireland until 90% of people over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated.
This is the advice given by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to the government following a meeting which discussed Ireland's Covid-19 response and the planned reopening of all sectors of society.
According to The Irish Times, NPHET wrote to cabinet ministers stating that at least 90% of the Irish population over the age of 16 would need to be fully vaccinated with two doses before any new easing of restrictions could be considered.
This target could be reached in the next six weeks, in around mid October at the earliest, to allow those eligible for vaccines to have received both doses and to have gained full immunity.
Other targets would also have to be met for any major reopening to go ahead, including cases and the incident rate remaining stable or falling.
The Cabinet Covid-19 sub-committee is meeting on Friday, The Irish Times reports, where they will discuss the advice from NPHET and consider the next plan in the roadmap to returning to normality.
A Government source told the outlet that it is unclear what, if any, restrictions can be eased before October, due to the advice from NPHET.
The news comes as a blow to the public and those working in the entertainment and live music industry, who had been expecting better news following comments from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan earlier this week.
Minister Donnelly said all restrictions should be lifted by Christmas, and Dr Holohan said this could happen even earlier-- Dr Holohan had also suggested that Ireland's biggest music festival, Electric Picnic, should be able to go ahead for the fully vaccinated.
Yesterday Ireland recorded a further 1,866 cases of the virus.
331 people are in hospital, with 61 being treated in intensive care- the highest number since the beginning of April this year, when Ireland was grappling with the devastating winter third wave.
"Critical care is our last line of defence against COVID-19 and I know this figure will concern many of us," Dr Holohan said.
"There are however many other ways we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from severe outcomes from COVID-19.
"Vaccination remains our best means of protection against COVID-19. The vaccines available in Ireland are very safe and effective against COVID-19. There are still some people who haven’t yet taken up the opportunity of vaccination, or who have delayed receiving a second dose for various reasons.
"I strongly encourage anyone who is in this position to ensure they get fully vaccinated as soon as possible in order to best protect themselves and those around them."