Leo Varadkar warns of "fourth wave" as Cabinet sub-committee to discuss further easing of restrictions 3 months ago

Leo Varadkar warns of "fourth wave" as Cabinet sub-committee to discuss further easing of restrictions

Ministers will meet today to finalise plans for the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions over the summer.

Leo Varadkar has warned that the risk of a "fourth wave" of Covid-19 remains very real as a Cabinet sub-committee is set to meet to discuss the further easing of restrictions on Thursday.

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Ministers are set to finalise plans for the easing of Covid-19 restrictions over the coming months before tomorrow's official announcement by the Taoiseach.

The Cabinet will be looking at the possibility of reopening indoor dining, pilot live events and international travel over the summer and beyond.

The suggested timeline will then have to be signed off by Government ahead of tomorrow's official announcement.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) yesterday gave its support to the reopening, noting that although the Indian variant remains a concern, the public health situation in Ireland remains positive.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has warned that a fourth wave of the pandemic could be possible as roughly 2.5 million people have yet to be vaccinated across the Republic of Ireland.

He told his Parliamentary Party that the reopening and vaccination programme "is working" and defended the guidelines released yesterday by Fáilte Ireland in relation to the reopening of the hospitality industry.

A number of TDs from both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were heavily critical of the rules, but Varadkar noted that caution was necessary due to the possibility of a fourth wave.

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Restaurants will need to stick to a maximum of six adults and nine children per table when they reopen, under new guidelines issued by Fáilte Ireland on Wednesday.

Pubs and restaurants will also need to close by 11.30 pm and no live music will be allowed under the new guidelines.

A time limit of 105 minutes will also apply to indoor dining in cases where a two-metre social distancing of tables cannot be maintained. There will be no time limit for outdoor tables.

The document, which was initially due to be published on Tuesday evening, does not confirm how long the measures will remain in place.

Under the guidelines, outdoor service will be allowed for a "maximum of six persons aged 13 or over per table" however, this will not apply to children under 13 as up to nine children aged 12 or below will also be allowed at a table.

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The guidelines also say that physical distancing of two metres should be maintained between tables inside restaurants and pubs.

The document adds that this distance may be reduced to one metre if plexiglass barriers and limits on crowds can be maintained - however, in these instances, a time limit of 105 minutes and pre-booking will need to be in place.

The €9 substantial meal rule will also be scrapped under the new measures.