NPHET to decide today whether or not to proceed with 'Freedom Day' on Friday

NPHET to decide today whether or not to proceed with 'Freedom Day' on Friday

THE NATIONAL Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is meeting today to discuss plans to reopen the country next week.

On Friday, Ireland is due to lift and ease the vast majority of public restrictions which have been in place since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rules regarding physical distancing, limits on people allowed to attend indoor and outdoor events, and vaccine certificates are on the verge of being scrapped, but a recent surge in Covid-19 cases has thrown everything into doubt.

Members of the government have refused to rule out keeping a number of rules in place beyond October 22, leaving the nation on tenterhooks.

A key NPHET meeting is taking place today to discuss how the country should proceed, before delivering its advice to the Cabinet Covid-19 sub-committee.

A final decision will then be taken by Cabinet on Tuesday.

It comes after a further 2,180 cases were reported on Saturday – the highest number since January – and 1,380 cases yesterday.

HSE CEO Paul Reid warned this morning that with 482 people currently in hospital with Covid-19, 74 of which are in ICU, it is "time for us all to hit the reset button".

"If unvaccinated you’re at higher risk, resulting in disproportionate impact. Do the right thing," Reid said on Twitter.

"For the rest of us, time to do the basics well again. Both of the above work."

Government has already hinted that digital vaccine certificates could remain in place for anyone looking to access indoor hospitality areas, and according to reports, they're consider keeping a limit on the number of people able to attend indoor events as well.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin insists that the country won't be "going backwards" and that Ireland's strong vaccine uptake means we're in a "completely different situation" compared to earlier on in the pandemic.

“We do not want to go back, and we are not contemplating going backwards,” Mr Martin said in an interview with the Sunday Independent.

"The only issue facing us now is going forward and that is a decision we will make on the advice we receive from NPHET."