The new restrictions likely to be introduced as NPHET meets with government
"We're taking measures to keep people safe and slow down the spread of this variant."
Government leaders are meeting with Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and other senior members of NPHET this evening ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
They are set to consider the findings from NPHET's epidemiological team, who have been studying the new Omicron variant as well as the ongoing Delta surge.
They will decide what steps to take next as countries across the world issue public health advice and tighten travel restrictions.
Ministers have been clear that a nationwide lockdown is not on the cards and further harsh restrictions are unlikely to be imposed.
However, several new rules are likely to be put in place.
Parents are set to be advised against Christmas plays, playdates, birthday parties, etc., for young children, in what has been described as a type of "circuit breaker".
Minister Stephen Donnelly said he endorses NPHET’s advice to reduce socialisation among children.
It’s expected the Cabinet will agree to a circuit-breaker for children as Covid cases continue to remain high among 5-11 year olds. Minister Donnelly said there has been no discussion to close schools.
A final decision regarding young children wearing masks in school will also be made tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Irish travel guidelines are likely to be updated in line with the current situation, as several countries begin to implement restrictions in this area.
The UK announced new travel rules over the weekend. Meanwhile, Japan has shut its borders to contain the spread while Australia has reintroduced border restrictions on some countries in southern Africa.
Travel to seven African countries from Ireland is currently not advised. Irish residents returning home from these countries will be required to undergo strict home quarantine.
Speaking to reporters this evening, Minister Stephen Donnelly said:
"The working assumption at this point is that there are cases here. Enhanced contract tracing has been put in place, there's a lot of genome sequencing going on.
"The message to everyone is, for those who are arriving in now, from any of the seven countries over the past few days to home quarantine. "
He added that other members of the household living with a person who has come to Ireland from one of these countries should also quarantine for 10 days.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said she expects the Cabinet will agree to advise people to restrict their social activities to combat the spread of the virus.
As well as this, new restrictions on extending the use of Covid passes to other sectors, including gyms and hairdressers, is on the cards.
Commenting on any final decisions that may be made on Tuesday, Minister Donnelly said:
"There's a lot of unknowns. We need to know how transmissible it is versus Delta. Does it make people sicker or maybe less sick? We need to establish that. And one of the big questions is - is there any difference of impact in terms of the vaccine?
"While we are waiting for some of these answers from the scientific community, we're taking measures to keep people safe and slow down the spread of this variant."
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