"We can't just ignore something because it's not popular" - Lifting of restrictions under increasing threat
Next week's reopening is now in serious doubt.
The planned lifting of the majority of Covid-19 restrictions on Friday, 22 October is under increasing threat, with Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney stating: "We can't just ignore something because it's not popular."
As it stands, a number of restrictions are set to be lifted next week, including requirements for physical distancing, as well as the wearing of masks outdoors and in indoor private settings.
Meanwhile, nightclubs are also planning to open their doors on the date after being closed for over a year and a half.
However, there is concern amongst senior Government officials over a continued rise in the number of Covid-19 cases and people in hospital with the virus reported on a daily basis.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is set to meet next Monday to review the latest trends and to subsequently advise the Government on what steps, if any, should be taken.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Wednesday warned that the major easing of restrictions planned for next week can't be guaranteed as the "pandemic has not gone away".
He stated that a final decision on reopening will not be made until next week.
Appearing on Newstalk Breakfast on Thursday, Simon Coveney cast further doubt on the major easing of restrictions on 22 October.
He said that while the Government expected that Covid-19 figures would increase, the question now is whether they are increasing to a level that could affect the removal of restrictions.
"There's nobody in Government... [who] wants to move away from the plan to remove the vast majority of remaining restrictions on the 22nd," he said.
"But we do have a responsibility to listen to the experts, to look at the science.
"And if there's a significant spike that is sustained, we can't ignore that.
He added that, like "at every point" during the pandemic, sometimes Government has to make the right decisions, "even if they're unpopular".
"It is possible that some of the restrictions that are due to be lifted may not be on the 22nd. Of course, that's possible.
"Let's wait and see what happens over the next week or so because what we've seen is a short-term spike in numbers and we'll have to see into next week whether that's sustained or not before we can make informed decisions."
On Wednesday, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre was notified of 2,066 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
As of 8am on Wednesday, 408 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 69 were in ICU.
The Department of Health also said there has been a total of 5,306 deaths related to Covid-19 notified in Ireland.
This includes 26 deaths newly notified in the past week since the Wednesday before.
Main image via Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie