Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said that he is hopeful of indoor pints returning in July. He said that he was unable to confirm this for definite.
Donnelly said he was also hopeful if the vaccine programme continues at the current pace, herd immunity levels could be reached by “late June/July”.
“We can’t say yet”, Donnelly said. “We have no guidance from Nphet on that yet but if the vaccine programme continues at the pace that it is now in terms of getting all the vaccines out, we begin to hit this herd immunity level around late June/July”.
This comes after the Government confirmed that outdoor hospitality is to return on June 7.
Donnelly continued, “My view on this is what’s been announced for May will happen, what’s been announced for June we all hope will happen”.
“We are all determined to make it happen. And if we all as a nation continue to not go beyond the public health advice, then for June, it should happen”.
“Any individual measure”
A common question for most people during this lockdown and others before it, has been why certain sectors were closed for so long, despite the chances of catching Covid-19 in these areas being very low.
This question was put to Minister Donnelly.
“You can’t take any individual measure and say: ‘but sure this one would have been okay’, right”, the minister explained.
He added, “People playing golf said it. People playing tennis said it. People who wanted to go hill walking said it. It gets said about every sector. You can take any individual action and say: ‘Surely this one action wouldn’t make much of a difference?’ And for the majority, it wouldn’t make a big difference”.
Stephen Donnelly said that it was important to prioritise the return of schools and education. “But it’s the collective effect of all of these things. So what did we do? We prioritised healthcare, we prioritised education”, he said.
“And so we were able to open up all of the schools. We’re one of the only countries in Europe where it’s all in-class education now for all primary and secondary schools”.
Lockdown “Incredibly difficult” – Donnelly
The Minister for Health also dismissed the idea that this lockdown was too severe.
“It has been incredibly difficult, but if you look at how we compare to the rest of Europe for example, we compare very well in terms of fatality rates,” he said.
“We went from having one of the highest rates in January to one of the consistently lowest rates. What does that mean? It means a lot of lives have been saved. It means we were able to return to full education, which other European countries haven’t been able to do”.
“And it means we’re able to have this conversation this morning about opening up”.
The HSE also confirmed that 45,000 vaccines were administered on Friday. They also hope to have 240,000 vaccinated this week.