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Covid: ‘Middle way’ may see partial easing of restrictions

admin | October 15, 2021

Ministers are set to push for a partial easing of restrictions next week which would see vaccine passports remain a requirement for entering venues and premises.

The high number of patients in hospitals and rising number of Covid-19 patients have led to serious concerns in Government and among public health officials.

While no final decision has been made about the next planned phase of reopening on October 22nd, senior sources told The Irish Times that some of the measures may be paused if the situation continues to deteriorate.

One proposal is removing a number of restrictions while keeping the requirement for vaccination certificates in place.

A final decision is expected to be made by Government next Monday or Tuesday.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is also due to meet in the coming days to finalise recommendations about a booster shot campaign.

Some Ministers are impatient at the pace of these deliberations as they believe a booster campaign should be launched as soon as possible.

One option being considered is a rollout in descending order down through the age cohorts.

“We have to weigh up additional vaccine doses extremely carefully,” Prof Mary Keogan of Beaumont Hospital told a symposium in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on Thursday.

“We know two doses of vaccine provide protection against severe disease in the vast majority of the population. We don’t know if a three-dose schedule will improve response or durability of the protection we get.”

“At a time when most of the world is not vaccinated we really can’t afford that luxury,” said Prof Keogan, adding that “we need to be mindful of our responsibility to use this precious resource prudently” when much of the global population was unvaccinated.

A Government source told The Irish Times that there might be a “middle way” of easing some restrictions on October 22nd, while leaving others in place. This could involve opening up only for the fully vaccinated or recovered.

There is also a feeling that this could encourage more people to get vaccinated or get their second shot if they have not yet done so.

On Thursday, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris suggested an extension of the digital Covid certificate beyond October 22nd as a safer way of reopening.

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