Burke welcomes re-opening of society and vaccine booster programme

Local Fine Gael Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, has welcomed the further re-opening of society recently announced by the Taoiseach Mícheál Martin as well as the booster programme, which he has advocated for within Government to be rolled out as soon as possible.

“In line with public health advice, my colleagues in Government have agreed to the full reopening of the hospitality, entertainment and night-time sector from this Friday, October 22, thanks to the enormous efforts made by people in Westmeath, our healthcare and frontline workers and the success of the vaccination programme.

“Wide and robust implementation of the Covid-19 certificate, along with ID, will be required to enter hospitality businesses. All protective measures should be employed by everyone, including acting fast, isolating and getting tested if we have symptoms; wearing our face coverings where appropriate, making sure indoor spaces are well ventilated; maintaining adequate social distancing whenever appropriate; and covering our coughs and sneezes and keeping our hands clean.

“After experiencing hospitality and retail locally, I have full faith in our small businesses, restaurants and pubs who continue to work hard to make sure their patrons are safe.

“Nightclubs can reopen with the appropriate protective measures in place, there will no longer be limits on the numbers attending weddings and religious services, and indoor live music, drama, entertainment and sporting events can take place provided they are fully seated. The 11:30pm curfew is also being lifted,” Deputy Burke stated.

From October 22, the further easing of restrictions can proceed with the extended use of the Covid-19 pass in light of the high level of disease in the community at this point in time, and the uncertain trajectory of the disease. Protective measures include:

• Requirement for Covid-19 pass (vaccine or recovery certificate ) for indoor hospitality and events;

• Face masks (can be removed for consumption of food or alcohol as appropriate );

• Table service only in hospitality settings (max of 10 adults per table, and max 15 including children );

• For indoor live music, drama, live entertainment and sporting events, with audience standing or sitting at seats

• COVID-19 passes and fixed capacity limits will not apply for outdoor events

• Religious services and weddings can proceed without capacity limits

• Return to workplaces will continue on a phased basis for those who can work from home.

“With regard to the vaccination programme, a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be offered to people aged 60 to 79 who have completed their first course with any Covid-19 vaccine, following a recommendation from NIAC. The booster dose should ideally be given six months (with a minimum interval of five months ) following completion of their primary vaccine course.

“NPHET has also recommended the HSE should implement a programme of Covid-19 antigen testing (with PCR confirmation of positive cases ) for people who are identified as fully vaccinated close contacts of a confirmed case and who do not have any symptoms.

“It is also of vital importance that our healthcare staff receive another vaccine dose, as they were one of the first vaccinated groups. I understand data is being gathered on this matter, to ensure we have the maximum level of robust research carried out, and a decision will be made shortly.

“Current enhanced illness benefit payment arrangements for Covid-19 will also remain in place. This benefit is available at a rate of €350 a week, with no waiting days, for employees and self-employed people who are certified by a registered medical practitioner as having been diagnosed with Covid-19 or a probable source of infection of Covid-19,” Minister Burke concluded.


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