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Dr Holohan tells Taoiseach no need for new restrictions this week as schools to re-open

  • Chief medical officer said Government needs to be ready to respond to significant changes to transmission of virus
  • Schools to open as planned on Thursday as no ‘public health rationale’ to keep them shut
  • Nphet to meet formally on Thursday to review latest data on Covid


Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Education Minister Norma Foley

Education Minister Norma Foley


Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has told the Taoiseach he does not believe more Covid-19 restrictions will be necessary this week.

However, Dr Holohan said the Government needs to be ready to respond to any significant changes to the transmission of virus.

It comes as it has been confirmed that the re-opening of schools is going ahead as planned on Thursday.

Public health chiefs told a meeting with education partners today that there was no “public health rationale” to delay the return of face-to-face classes.

While schools are re-opening, staffing challenges could see some classes reverting to remote learning from time to time.

Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) general secretary John Boyle said they were told school inspectors would be made available to help schools who could access substitution cover to make decisions regarding how best to give priority to children with additional needs and younger classes.

The development came after Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the CMO spoke today ahead of a meeting of the three Government leaders.


Mr Martin told the meeting Dr Holohan did not envision the need for more restrictions this week.

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan agreed at their meeting that they did not want to introduce more restrictions this week.

However, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will meet formally on Thursday to review the latest data on the virus.

It is unclear if new restrictions will be recommend after this meeting or if the Government will impose them this week if they are advised.

Nphet will also consider a request from the Government leaders to review isolation rules for close contacts and those who have been diagnosed with Covid.

The Government is eager to follow the lead of the US where isolation periods have been abolished for close contacts who have no symptoms and are fully vaccinated, including a booster shot.

Meanwhile, schools will re-open on Thursday despite concerns from teachers’ unions about the prevalence of Covid infection and the potential impact on staffing levels.

The Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) had called for a delayed and staggered reopening.

Education Minister Norma Foley headed up a two-hour meeting, which also involved representatives of teacher unions and school management bodies.

The minister and public health chiefs outlined how the Covid-19 mitigation measures in place in schools had been reviewed by Public Health and will continue to be in place in the coming term.

“Public Health remains of the view that these mitigation measures are effective and appropriate. Furthermore, Public Health officials advised that there is no public health rationale to delay the reopening of schools later this week,” it stated.

While the details were not immediately spelled out, the Department said further clarifications and information would be issued to schools tomorrow. This will include information in Covid isolation periods.

The Department described today’s talks as “productive”.

It said that all parties recognised the importance to students of in-school teaching and learning.

The Department said the successful roll-out by the HSE of the booster vaccination campaign for adults and the opening of the vaccine programme to children aged 5-11 was also noted.

Schools will operate in line with usual mitigation measures, including hand hygiene, mask-wearing, and social distancing, while they have also been provided with guidance on maintaining good ventilation.

Tomorrow, the Department will launch a communications campaign aimed at ensuring that symptomatic students and household close contacts do not attend school.

The Department said it would continue to meet regularly with the education partners on the issue of Covid-19.

Teachers Union Ireland (TUI) general secretary Michael Gillespie said they were awaiting further details on what schools should do if a large number of teachers were absent, and a further meeting was planned for tomorrow.


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