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Donnelly: Mask-wearing may continue for 'quite some time' as restrictions ease

The Health Minister says COVID-19 measures such as mask-wearing may continue “for quite some ti...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.42 25 Aug 2021


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Donnelly: Mask-wearing may continue for 'quite some time' as restrictions ease


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.42 25 Aug 2021


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The Health Minister says COVID-19 measures such as mask-wearing may continue “for quite some time” even as restrictions ease.

Stephen Donnelly says ministers will also likely consider the prospect of reopening live events for vaccinated people.

He was speaking as NPHET meets today to consider the advice it will give to the Government on the further easing of restrictions.

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The Cabinet sub-committee will then meet on Friday, ahead of a full Cabinet meeting next Tuesday.

Ministers are set to sign off on a reopening ‘roadmap’ early next week.

There has been a particular focus recently on the return of live events, with the sector remaining almost entirely closed.

Yesterday, Electric Picnic organisers urged Laois County Council to reverse course and grant the festival a licence for next month.

It comes after the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said NPHET would have no major concern about large outdoor concerts going ahead if they were for vaccinated people only.

On Newstalk Breakfast, Minister Donnelly said he wasn't surprised by Dr Holohan's comments - saying the CMO gave a "direct and open" answer to a direct question.

Donnelly: Mask-wearing may continue for 'quite some time' as restrictions ease

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The minister said: “I certainly would strongly support the view that groups of vaccinated people are in a much better place in terms of COVID than unvaccinated people.”

He noted there was "a lot” of political opposition to vaccine passes for indoor dining, but argued that the system has been working very well so far.

He suggested the return of live concerts for vaccinated people "certainly is something Cabinet can look at and consider".

However, he noted there are already mechanisms in place for reopening, such as pilot events of "increasing numbers" - something which has already been seen in the sports sector.

He added: “There are options - options I think the sector would be quite excited by - around fully vaccinated people.”

He said the live events sector has had a "brutal time", and the Government needs to do what they can to reopen "safely and sustainably".

Lifting restrictions

Minister Donnelly yesterday said he expects all remaining restrictions to be lifted by Christmas - and today he said he hopes it can happen sooner than that.

The Fianna Fáil minister said he doesn't want to preempt Cabinet decisions on the roadmap.

However, he suggested some measures will likely be able to be relaxed very quickly, while others may need to wait until after the peak of the ongoing Delta wave of infections.

Despite that, he said the public health advice around measures such as mask-wearing may continue “for quite some time”

He said: “I expect there will be public health advice around the basics that have worked well.

"I would be reluctant to give dates, but certainly I’d expect through the autumn and through the winter there will be some of the basic public health measures.”

The Health Minister said he also expects the current vaccine pass requirement for pubs and restaurants will end once everyone who wants a vaccine has gotten one.

He also said COVID certs are unlikely to be needed for the upcoming All Ireland finals, despite the concerns raised about the large crowds gathered around Croke Park last weekend.

Main image: Face mask sign (left, picture by: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie) and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly (right, picture by: Damien Eagers/PA Wire/PA Images)

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