Health Minister 'assured' ahead of further reopening

He was speaking in Cavan today.

The Health Minister says he has been “assured” by the hospitality industry “that everything will be done right” as the next stage of reopening gets underway.

Stephen Donnelly was speaking on a visit to Cavan today where he met staff working in the county’s vaccine centre.

The government this week gave the go-ahead for the next stage of the country’s reopening plan, with some alterations.

Socially distanced queues at bar counters are to be allowed and nightclubs can operate at 100% capacity from today.

Protocols for businesses were published last night. They allow for full capacity crowds at seated music and entertainment events, while venues can set aside a dedicated standing area of up to 1,500 people.

The 11.30pm closing time for bars which had been in place has been scrapped and people are allowed to reserve multiple tables with a maximum of 10 people at each. Vaccine certs will also be required.

“It is essential that it [the reopening] is done in a compliant manner. The industry have assured us that they will do it right, that they will ensure that the Covid passes are used everywhere”, he said.

“I want to give huge credit to the two thirds of that industry who have been checking the passes and doing everything that’s needed.”

Concern has grown over an increase in the number of people being hospitalised due to the virus, with pressure growing on hospitals and ICUs.

An increase in people socialising and waning vaccine efficiency is being blamed.

Minister Donnelly said he is taking the current situation “very seriously” and said the Government is listening to the “straight talk” from the Chief Medical Officer this week.

Ahead of the reopening of many nightclubs and other venues this evening, Minister Donnelly praised those who have already gotten their vaccine but urged the remaining seven per cent to do so:

“Right now about 250,000 adults in Ireland are yet to be vaccinated in any way, one or two shots, and I would just say to them, please step up, please step forward… Those who are unvaccinated are getting disproportionately sick”.