THE NATIONAL Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is to meet today to discuss the tightening of restrictions in certain areas, with just over one week to go until Christmas.
The main areas to be considered are people being asked to cut their contacts in the lead-up to Christmas, and the tightening of restrictions on sporting events, large family gatherings and house parties, the Irish Times reports.
People may also be asked to increase their use of Covid-19 antigen testing, particularly before meeting elderly relatives.
For travel, the government is favouring an EU-wide approach, and harsh new restrictions are not expected.
Cabinet is expected to meet tomorrow to discuss the new recommendations from NPHET.
Also yesterday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced a significant acceleration of the booster vaccination programme.
The opening hours of vaccination centres are to be extended from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, and the number of pharmacies participating in the programme is to increase to 700.
Boosters will also be available to those aged over 40 from the week commencing 27 December, and the vaccination of high-risk children will commence 20 December.
Minister Donnelly said:
"Ireland has continued to be a frontrunner in the delivery and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines internationally.
"With over 1.2 million booster doses administered to date, we are currently operating an advanced hybrid model of delivery in Ireland to ensure those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 are further protected. In advance of the festive season, I have asked that the HSE update the programme to maximise delivery.
"It is the intention that we will deliver an average of 300,000 booster doses a week in the coming weeks.
I am also pleased to announce that vulnerable children aged 5-11 will begin to be offered an appointment from next week and the booster programme will commence offering appointments to those aged 40 – 49 on the week commencing 27 December.
"To support this the HSE are implementing a number of capacity-increasing measures including extended opening hours in Vaccination Clinics and the participation of even more GPs and Pharmacies."
In the UK, a record 78,610 coronavirus cases were recorded yesterday, the highest number since the Covid-19 pandemic began, prompting the government’s chief medical adviser to warn against social mixing.