| 18°C Belfast

Government to meet this week to discuss plan to ease restrictions

The National Public Health and Emergency Team will assess the impact of easing lockdown measures two weeks ago before it advises the Government.

Close

Liz Canavan, assistant secretary for social policy for the Taoiseach, warned that the changes do not ‘signal a return to life as we knew it’ (Brian Lawless/PA)

Liz Canavan, assistant secretary for social policy for the Taoiseach, warned that the changes do not ‘signal a return to life as we knew it’ (Brian Lawless/PA)

Liz Canavan, assistant secretary for social policy for the Taoiseach, warned that the changes do not ‘signal a return to life as we knew it’ (Brian Lawless/PA)

Government and health officials are to meet later this week to decide whether the country can lift further restrictions next Monday.

The National Public Health and Emergency Team (NPHET) will assess the ongoing impact of easing lockdown measures two weeks ago before it advises the Government.

On Friday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the latest fast-tracking of Ireland’s exit plan in which he confirmed a number of services can reopen, including hairdressers and beauticians.

However, senior civil servant Liz Canavan warned that the changes do not “signal a return to life as we knew it”.

Close

John O’Loughlin, owner of Tallaght Traditional Barber Shop, at his premises in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

John O’Loughlin, owner of Tallaght Traditional Barber Shop, at his premises in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

John O’Loughlin, owner of Tallaght Traditional Barber Shop, at his premises in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Government approved the approach set out in the NPHET advice last Friday so that everybody can get on and make their plans,” she said.

“But we are not there yet.

“We still have to see the full impact of the lifting of restrictions in phase two. We will have that data later this week and Government will meet again to consider whether we move forward to phase three.

“We’ve heard news again this morning about how quickly this disease can resurge, so we need to constantly assess the impact of what we’re seeing in the data here in Ireland.

“That also serves to emphasise that everything we heard on Friday is very welcome news, but it doesn’t mean that the virus has gone away and these changes do not signal a return to life as we knew it.

“The issue is that this disease is highly infectious and the second challenge is we may not show symptoms to be transmitted to others.

“Yes, for a great many people it is a mild illness, but, as too many families out there know, for others it is not.

“As the Taoiseach said on Friday, we will be living a different type of life. As Government steps back population-wide restrictions, we’re asking you to step up for yourself, your family, and your community.

“We’re asking business owners and service providers to think about how they’re protecting customers and clients.”

I hope we get more finessed or targeted restrictions so maybe people in Clones of Athlon would go back to phase one in the event of a major outbreak but the rest of the country would notSam McConkey

Meanwhile, an infectious disease specialist has said that lockdown could be enforced on a regional basis if clusters of coronavirus break out in certain areas.

Professor Sam McConkey said that, while it is unclear where and when clusters of the virus will occur again, putting the country into full lockdown again would not be the best approach.

“We have seen in Milan, when things were really appalling in northern Italy – towns there have a ‘cordon sanitaire’, which is the French word for a sanitary curtain.

“It essentially means there is an area people can’t travel across in the event of an outbreak,” he told RTE radio.

“That can work and it might be preferable to the whole of the country going back into phase one or phase zero.

“I hope we get more finessed or targeted restrictions so maybe people in Clones or Athlone would go back to phase one in the event of a major outbreak but the rest of the country would not.”

Close

(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

It was also confirmed on Monday that Tayto Park is to reopen next week.

The theme park and zoo in Co Mayo said it will reopen on Monday June 29 at 9.30am. Tickets are available to buy from 4pm on Monday.

The decision comes after the park’s organisers issued an apology earlier this month when it cancelled its June 18 reopening date.

On Sunday, Ireland recorded zero Covid-19-related deaths. It is the third time since March that no deaths have been reported in a 24-hour period.

The death toll in Ireland remains at 1,715.

There were six new confirmed cases of the virus on Sunday, taking the total since the outbreak began in Ireland to 25,379.

PA