The government is set to move forward with lifting the remaining Covid-19 restrictions in a revised plan to live with Covid despite NPHET members voicing concerns.
A number of meetings will be held this week to finalize details on how the country will navigate the fall and winter months as authorities prepare to lift the last severe restrictions on certain sectors.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin is expected to release a new reopening plan next week that will set a timeline with dates from mid-September to the end of September.
But it is understood that NPHET members are concerned about the current trajectory of the Delta variant and the number of people in hospitals across the country, especially those who are unvaccinated and young people.
Professor Philip Nolan said Monday that the NPHET was not yet satisfied with the level of vaccine protection.
He said the number of Covid patients in hospital and intensive care is expected to increase over the next two to three weeks at least.
He said: “We have not yet reached the level of vaccine protection that we would like to have.”
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and members of the NPHET will meet on Wednesday for crucial discussions before writing a letter to the government with their advice on what they believe is another safe easing of Covid-19 restrictions .
CMO’s letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is expected between Wednesday evening and Thursday before Cabinet ministers join Dr Holohan and HSE boss Paul Reid for a Cabinet subcommittee meeting on Friday.
The final roadmap will go to Cabinet next week to be signed before the Taoiseach Micheál Martin addresses the nation.
A senior government source said further easing restrictions on indoor sports, live performances and return to workplaces will continue despite NPHET concerns.
The source admitted that the number of people hospitalized and in intensive care would have a ripple effect and “no doubt it adds pressure” to decision-making, but said the increase in Covid-19 cases was “well marked”.
They said the government would proceed as planned with easing the remaining restrictions from mid-September to the end of September.
The source said: “There will be a comprehensive plan that will give a timeline with indicative dates for the return to the office, indoor sports and the live entertainment industry.
“It will be a fall and winter plan on how to live with Covid and the roadmap will outline the next steps in lifting the restrictions.
“Public health experts will give their advice and we already knew that Covid cases would increase due to Delta, but we are almost reaching the 90% rate of complete vaccines and this is a pretty big milestone for everyone. “
The Irish Mirror understands that all areas with remaining restrictions will be given a reopening schedule with indicative dates.
On Wednesday, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Catherine Martin, will hold another meeting with representatives of the live performance industry.
It is understood that she submitted an updated plan to the Taoiseach and her Cabinet colleagues in which she called for a return to indoor events with full capacity for those who are fully vaccinated.
Ms. Martin proposed that vaccine passes be used to allow participation in such events.
The live entertainment industry remained furious as 40,000 fans were allowed to make the All-Ireland final while hundreds of GAA fans filled the streets around Croke Park on Sunday.
Taoiseach has been the subject of criticism from representative bodies of the sector, with the Event Industry Alliance saying it has said their industry is “discriminated against” by the government.
Gardaí said he was forced to temporarily close some pubs around Croke Park due to a lack of social distancing among crowds and anti-social behavior.
A garda spokesperson said a number of locals have been asked to cease their activities in the interests of Gardaí investigating alleged violations of the Covid regulation at one of those premises.