Taoiseach says it “cannot guarantee” full reopening before Jazz Fest on October 22

With the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival set to resume full swing next week, the latest comments from Taoiseach, Tanaiste and NPHET have cast “concerned” doubt on the country’s reopening on October 22.

The Jazz Fest has previously confirmed that it will take place over the statutory holiday weekend, coinciding with the plan to lift some of the remaining pandemic restrictions.

The government hoped to lift restrictions on crowds and drop the legal requirement for social distancing and the mandatory use of face masks.

But a high-level source said those two measures could also extend beyond October 22.

The Taoiseach said Wednesday evening that it “cannot guarantee” that the restrictions will be lifted as planned next Friday.

The return of nightclubs and increased crowds at live events are in the sights and there has been talk of retaining the Covid pass condition to access pubs and restaurants.

The Taoiseach told reporters on Thursday: “Regarding the restrictions, no decision has been made.

“We have made great strides as a country in reopening society.

“Thousands of people have returned to work, entire sectors have been reopened and we have vaccines.

“We will make a decision based on the advice we receive over the next few days and the discussions that will take place among members of government, in Cabinet, with officials.

“It (Covid) got worse last week, but we have the vaccines.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has raised concerns about the October 22 reopening

The number of cases has exceeded 2,000 a day frequently in recent days, with the number of hospitals hovering around 400 each day.

The NPHET sent early warnings to the government saying it was “concerned” about the recent trajectory of the disease.

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has confirmed that there has been a 12% increase in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 over the past week.

“I don’t think the government will give up on its plan to remove the restrictions at the end of next week, but whether or not we are able to. [relax restrictions] as much as we would have liked is the question ”

Speaking in Cork on Friday, Minister Coveney said the question for the government now is how far it can go to lift the final restrictions.

Speaking to RTÉ, he said: “I think it is likely that there will be a significant removal of restrictions at the end of next week, but whether we can go as far as we would like or as far as we had announced would be the case remains to be seen.

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Willie J. Johnson

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