NPHET warns extra three weeks before reopening could make "substantial difference"
“An additional two to three weeks would make a substantial difference.”
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has warned that an extra two or three weeks before the proposed reopening of indoor dining on 5 July could make a "substantial difference".
NPHET member Dr Mary Favier said that she was concerned about the "uptick" in cases stemming from the Delta Covid-19 variant, adding that pushing back the reopening to allow for more time to ramp up vaccinations could prevent a further lockdown at a later date.
"An additional two to three weeks would make a substantial difference," she told RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland.
Dr Favier added that while the vaccination programme was going well, many people, such as those waiting to receive another dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, needed a second dose for it to be effective.
She also said that NPHET will likely give their recommendations to Government early next week, adding that it will be the Government who will make the final decision on the date for the easing of restrictions for indoor dining.
She said that “social solidarity and the extraordinary community effort had gotten us this far”, however, it will be a "hard decision" with "many variables".
Dr Favier said she believes people would understand the need to postpone the reopening if it meant we could avoid putting increased pressure on the health system as well as more lockdowns.
Earlier this week, Dr Favier once again warned that the proposed 5 July indoor dining reopening date could be "a recipe for problems" amid concerns over the Delta variant.
On RTÉ Radio 1’s Today with Claire Byrne on Tuesday, she stressed the need to be cautious as it was important to avoid a situation where hospitals were again being “overrun”.
When asked if the country should "press pause" on the further easing of restrictions, Dr Favier said that pushing back the easing of restrictions on indoor pubs and restaurants by two or three weeks “could make all the difference”.
"I think we need to be very cautious, this is a much more transmissible variant, at least 50% more, and particularly it's affecting younger people more," she said.