Fresh doubt has been cast on the relaxing of most of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on Irish society as planned on October 22.
Case numbers have been creeping up in recent weeks with hospital figures hitting seven-month highs and health officials have declared concern at the sudden change in virus behaviour in recent days.
Ireland’s incidence rate of Covid-19 is more than twice the European average, according to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC). The ECDC is currently reporting that Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate is at 372.25.
The European average is 166. Ireland’s death rate is 70pc of the EU average, showing the positive impact of the highest vaccination rates in the EU/EEA area.
Nphet are due to meet today and will advise Government on the path ahead based on what they see in the most up-to-date Covid-19 data and trends.
Independent.ie has compiled a list of the restrictions that could be lifted if Government decides to press on as planned next week.
Requirements for social distancing in most indoor settings such as pubs and restaurants as well as at outdoor events such as matches and concerts will be lifted.
Stadia and outdoor venues are expected to return to full capacity while there will no longer be a requirement to remain at your table or distance from others in bars and restaurants. Limits on numbers at indoor events and activities are also expected to be lifted.
The requirement to wear masks outdoors and in indoor private settings will be removed, but masks will remain essential on public transport, in healthcare settings and for indoor retail.
Any capacity restrictions on masses, weddings, funerals and all other religious and civil ceremonies will be removed.
There will be no limits on the number of people that can meet in private homes/gardens.
The requirement to show a certificate of vaccination, immunity or testing as a prerequisite for access to any events or public settings is set to be removed. A vaccine cert will still be required for people wishing to travel internationally.
Our nearest neighbours, the UK, acted fast on vaccines and fast on the relaxation of restrictions, and if Ireland does relax restrictions on October 22, we will have a broadly similar state of play.
Ireland will mandate mask wearing in some public settings such as indoor retail, while the UK does not require this by law, stating it “expects and recommends” them. Masks will also be required on public transport in Ireland post-October 22, while only some transport operators in the UK currently require this.
Ireland looks set, though, to relax more restrictions than some of its EU counterparts.
In France, as in Ireland, people must wear face coverings on public transport, but must also do so in all public indoor settings except those where health passes must be shown to gain entry. People must also have a health pass (equal to our Covid cert) to take long-distance train, bus and plane journeys internally. Ireland’s current plans are to scrap vaccine certs for entry to all venues and events. These are required in France for any event that brings more than 50 people together indoors.
Masks must be worn in busy outdoor settings in Germany, while the plan is to ditch masks for most settings here, but in most regions of Germany the regulations are broadly similar to Ireland.
Public events in enclosed spaces in Berlin may permit a maximum of 2,000 people if all requirements are met. For indoor events, all participants must be able to show proof of a current negative Corona test, a complete vaccination (both doses) or a previous Covid-19 infection.
Outdoor public events may take place with a maximum of 2,000 persons but if more than 100 people are present, testing is mandatory for all participants. Events in Germany do have the option of employing a ‘vaccination-recovered' model whereby attendances can be increased if all attendees have a vaccine or recovery cert.
Matches in some German states are now permitted to hold 100pc of capacity but others within the federal state are capped at 50pc.
Ireland’s proposed October 22 relaxation of Covid measures will also exceed some of the current relaxations in Spain.
In the Madrid region, outdoor gatherings in bars and restaurants are limited to groups of 10 and indoor groups are limited to six.
In Madrid nightclubs and late-night venues, masks must be worn at all times except when eating or drinking, and no dancing is permitted. None of these restrictions will be placed on Irish nightclubs after October 22.
Italy still requires a Digital Covid Certificate to gain access to various public spaces, including but not limited to: indoor seating at bars or restaurants, public events, sporting events and competitions, swimming pools, gyms, spas (where these are indoor).
Stadia and venues are slated to return to full capacity as of next Friday under current Government plans and this is largely similar to many European countries, with some capping attendance at matches to 75pc.
So while Ireland has endured tough restrictions, it appears to be aligning more towards the UK brand of reopening rather than some of the European superpowers.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland