Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that a decision will be made next week on whether the further easing of restrictions will go ahead as scheduled on the weekend of the Cork Jazz Festival.
It comes as concerns were raised about the festival which is due to take place in various venues across Cork city from October 22.
Speaking in Cork on Friday afternoon, Mr Martin said that the Government will next week consider the data and advice presented to them by public health officials before making a decision on whether to further ease restrictions or not.
He agreed with HSE chief Paul Reid’s comments that this is not a case of “pressing the panic button” but said that Government does have to give an assessment on the situation.
“Vaccination is important and the vaccinations are working against severe illness, against admission to hospital and to ICUs in particular.
“So we are in the first instance asking people to really consider, if you’re not vaccinated, getting vaccinated,” he said.
He said that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is also considering expanding the booster vaccine programme which he said is “important in the overall battle against Covid-19 because vaccines have shown to work”.
Mr Martin said that the situation in terms of the number of cases will be assessed and that there is a “variety of options” the Government can look at.
“That’s what we’re going to do but I don’t want to speculate unduly because it’s better we make a comprehensive decision from the advice we get next week.
“The situation has changed in relation to the disease, that there is no doubt, and we’re going to have to take that on board in terms of the decisions we make next week that will be informed by public health advice,” he said.
On returning to the workplace, Mr Martin said that the Government’s position remains the same in that it will be a phased return to the office and said that while some companies have made the decision to return to the office, it is not “a particular contributor here to the worsening of figures” but that it is a “wider issue of congregation more generally and the social gatherings and so on” that is causing cases to rise.
Commending peoples’ patience throughout the pandemic, he said that the “extremely high” vaccination rates in the country are a testament to peoples’ commitment to science and to public health advice.
“I think people are working very hard in relation to this and we’ve had significant restrictions over the last year and a half so I think people have been patient. I think people understand this pandemic now.
"They know that there have been and will continue to be twists and turns in relation to the disease but the key point is that we’re in a much better position now than we were because vaccination transforms the environment totally,” he said.