A planned announcement on subsidising the cost of antigen tests has been delayed.
The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was due to bring a memo to Cabinet on the matter this morning; however, the plans are being pushed back as talks continue.
Under the plan that was close to being finalised yesterday, the subsidised tests would be available in pharmacies at a cost of €2 or €3.
Officials felt starting the roll-out in pharmacies would ensure people were getting proper advice on how and when they should be used – a concern raised repeatedly by NPHET and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan.
The plan has now been delayed as officials seek more time to engage with retailers on the possibility of bringing them into the subsidisation scheme from the start.
Understand the memo on subsidised antigen testing not now going to cabinet this morning. Details still being worked on. Plan was to subsidise them in pharmacies, reducing cost to €2-3 each.
I’m told delay is to allow engagement with other retailers on providing them
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) November 23, 2021
No new date for the rollout has been confirmed; however, Minister Donnelly is expected to bring forward the plan this week or early next week.
Today, he will brief Cabinet on the latest case, hospitalisation and ICU numbers.
At a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on Economic Recovery last night, senior ministers agreed to move ahead with plans to reduce the wage subsidy scheme despite the return of restrictions for pubs, restaurants and night clubs.
Commission of Housing
Meanwhile, a memo on the establishment of a Commission on Housing will go before the Cabinet this morning.
The Commission is expected to be set up before Christmas and will be charged with considering long term housing policy.
The wording of a possible referendum on the right to housing is likely to be considered along with issues like tenure, suitability of housing and standards.
Cabinet will also hear details of a €1.5bn renewable energy project from the ESB and Coillte this morning.
The two agencies will launch a joint venture company called FuturEnergy Ireland - aiming to deliver 1GW of renewable energy to the Irish market by 2030.
The ESB and Coillte will use shareholder loans from their own finances to provide €1.5bn, mostly for onshore wind - with the potential for 200 new turbines.