Monday, May 24, 2021

James Cox

The Government needs an extension of its emergency Covid powers in case of new variants of concern, according to the Health Minister.

Stephen Donnelly is seeking to retain the powers until November 9th in case the Covid situation worsens again.

The ability to enforce many of the measures was due to expire next month.

But Minister Donnelly says the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has advised some of them may need to be retained until the winter to deal with variants.

Higher-risk environments

He said mask-wearing may be necessary into the winter in “higher-risk environments” or if there are local outbreaks of Covid-19 or variants of the virus.

Speaking during a Seanad debate on Monday, Mr Donnelly said “we are ahead of the best-case scenario” and in a “good position” as the Government prepares to outline further guidelines for the reopening of society following a Cabinet meeting on Friday.

He said the Government will support the digital green certificate plans, adding that “people who are fully vaccinated can travel”, not just within the EU but “with partner countries outside the EU as well”.

Lighter measures

Mr Donnelly said he hoped further emergency public health measures would not be necessary but if they were, it would be “lighter touch measures”.

The Seanad voted by 29 to three to pass the second stage of the legislation to extend the ability of the State to impose restrictions at short notice until November 9th, a resolution of the Seanad and the Dáil will be required every three months from then for any extension of the measures.



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