Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has stated that further Covid-19 restrictions cannot be ruled out this winter.
This comes after Donnelly was speaking in the Dáil during a debate to extend the legal framework of imposing restrictions under the Health Act (Amendment) 2021 for a further three months.
Donnelly stated that the government is not seeking to extend the restrictions beyond the 22nd of October, however, he wants to keep the legal framework in place in the scenario where further lockdowns and restrictions are required.
From the 22nd of October, the limit on the number of people who will be allowed to attend indoor and outdoor events and activities will be dropped, including religious and civil ceremonies.
With the exception of international travel, vaccine certification will no longer be required to gain access to any activities or events.
As the Health Act Amendment expires on the 9th of October, Donnelly said that he wants to extend this date, saying that the future trajectory of the disease cannot be predicted with certainty.
Donnelly stated, “A response to the disease that is agile and flexible with an ability to pivot rapidly and respond to any new emerging threats needs to be ensured,” while adding, “The act is an important part of that response, should the potential for one arise in the future, and while unlikely, it cannot be fully ruled out because of the uncertainty of the future trajectory of the virus, given how novel it is.”
Donnelly was backed by Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon, who stated that although vaccine uptake has been high, Ireland should not be complacent.
However, Donnelly’s proposal was met with opposition from Sinn Féin, with the party’s health spokesman David Cullinane stating, “You’re asking for this three-month extension to bring us up to the January 9, that’s not something that I can support, because when you go back to the very first day that you was minister, maybe your predecessor, brought forward proposals for emergency powers, we all accepted that they could only be in place for as long as they are necessary and that we could not keep extending them.”
IMAGE – Stephen Donnelly (via Twitter)/”Delaware National Guard” by The National Guard is licensed under CC BY 2.0