There are no plans to reintroduce full work-from-home orders or extend the use of COVID certs, the Health Minister has told Newstalk Breakfast.
Stephen Donnelly was speaking after NPHET again urged people to reduce their social contacts with case numbers remaining stubbornly high.
Around 25,000 new cases have been reported in the last week – meaning one-in-200 people have tested positive in the past seven days.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is meeting today to discuss whether further measures are needed.
A full work from home policy is due to be discussed; however, on Newstalk Breakfast Minister Donnelly said the idea was not under consideration by Government.
“I haven’t received any advice to that end and it is not something the Government is actively considering at the moment,” he said.
“I think at the press conference last night, the NPHET team were being asked about a lot of different hypotheticals and they were giving a view generally that given the cases numbers right now they would prefer people to be opting for the safer option.”
Last night, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said he would support the use of COVID certs by businesses outside travel and hospitality.
Minister Donnelly said a mandatory extension of their use is “not on the cards.”
“It is not advice I have had and it is not something Government is considering,” he said.
“Dr Holohan was asked outright for his opinion – is it the kind of thing he would like to see, is it the kind of thing that would make things safer.
“Of course, it would make things safer. The more the COVID pass is used, the safer it is. It protects the people using the service, it protects the people working in the service.
“But in terms of regulation or Government policy, that is not something we are looking at, at the moment.”
A study published in the Lancet at the end of last month found that vaccinated people who catch the virus are just as infectious as unvaccinated people – although they remain so for a shorter period of time.
The study notes that vaccinated people are less likely to pick up the virus in the first place and vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing severe hospitalisation and death.
The findings have led to increased calls for antigen testing to be used for access to pubs and restaurants, with Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín yesterday telling Newstalk the COVID certs “simply not working.”
Minister Donnelly rejected the idea antigen testing would be more effective than vaccine certs.
“I think the COVID passes and the vaccine certs are really, really important because the vaccines do provide additional protection against transmission – not as much obviously as we would have hoped but there is still protection,” he said.
Pushed on whether someone with a negative antigen test was less likely to spread COVID than someone with a COVID cert, he said: “Maybe, but the person who is vaccinated or who has recovered and has the vaccine cert has a much higher level of protection.
“You are talking about spreading within a population, if people are fully vaccinated, where there is a huge level of protection from the effects of that transmission.”