A Clare Government TD insists the green light should be given to businesses within the hospitality sector to resume normal trading from this evening.
Cabinet ministers are meeting this afternoon to agree a timeline, after NPHET approved the easing of almost all Covid-19 restrictions.
Just shy of two years on from the beginning of the pandemic, there’s widespread relief.
Last night public health officials recommended a sweeping lifting of Covid restrictions, including ending early closing times for hospitality, removing capacity limits at live events and matches; and scrapping the need to have a Covid pass to enter a bar or restaurant.
The only measures likely to remain are mask wearing in shops and on public transport, Covid passes for travel, some special guidance for schools, and the test, trace and isolate system.
Health officials also gave the go ahead to a phased return to the office for workers.
NPHET hasn’t set out a timeline for Government, leaving that for politicians to decide today.
Ministers say they’ve no intention of hanging about, but some legal regulations do need to be unwound.
Sources left open the idea last night that normal trading hours for hospitality could return from tomorrow, with nightclubs also opening. If not tomorrow, Monday was the other date being discussed.
There’s a belief however that it will be impossible to police a curfew this weekend, now the contents of the NPHET letter are public knowledge.
Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey believes that having followed public health advice up until now, the Government should do the same and lift restrictions across the board from this evening.
Clare’s Independent TD says he’s relieved that restrictions are coming to an end, as people need to be able to make their own decisions on how to conduct themselves socially.
But Michael McNamara has warned that it’s not “until the storm is over that you see the damage that has been done”.
The Scariff Deputy believes we have a very unbalanced economy, saying we can’t continue to haemorrhage money like we have been.
The end date for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, which was due to be reduced to the same rate as jobseekers benefit next month, is also likely to be extended later.
Ministers also need to consider what to do with the CRSS payments to closed businesses, which will lapse when hospitality is fully reopened.
Sources say there may be an exit payment of several weeks worth to those businesses when the scheme closes.
Cabinet Ministers are meeting this afternoon to sign off on plans and Taoiseach Micheál Martin is expected to address the nation at 6pm.