There’s been no decision yet about the future of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), the Taoiseach has said.
However, he says ministers will be looking at how to move from an “emergency situation” to a more “normal” working environment.
He was speaking after reports yesterday that NPHET could be wound down in October as the remaining COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The Irish Independent reported the group could be wound down alongside the likes of the vaccine taskforce and the coordinating committee of senior civil servants from key Government departments
The current team of NPHET - chaired by the Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan - was initially set up in late January 2020 in response to the growing concern over COVID-19.
Over the course of the pandemic, NPHET’s advice has been relied on by senior ministers when making major decisions about the pandemic and related restrictions.
Many of its members have also become household names, thanks to their daily press conferences during lockdown periods and frequent updates throughout the pandemic.
Speaking to RedFM News in Crosshaven, the Taoiseach said senior officials will still be on hand to advise the Government.
He said: “The Chief Medical Officer is a key officer within the Department of Health and leads the public health campaign and public health advice - that will remain and that will continue.
“Precise formats and so on - in terms of the taskforce and the senior officials group - will be looked at. How do we transition now from what has been an emergency situation for a long period, into creating what’s a more normal environment across government in dealing with the next phase?
“All of that still remains to be decided.”
He was speaking ahead of a full Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, where ministers are set to sign off on a roadmap for the easing of remaining restrictions.
The Taoiseach has already said September will be a “significant month”, with the likely easing of restrictions around live entertainment and the arts.
It’s also expected a phased return to the workplace could get underway next month.
However, it’s likely to be the "latter half" of September before a major easing, in order to allow an extra 1-2 weeks of vaccinations to take full effect.