Spread of the coronavirus Delta variant is causing growing concern in Government with fears of a “spill over” of infections from the United Kingdom.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin and HSE chief executive Paul Reid both on Thursday urged the public to be cautious as a fourth wave of Covid-19 infection looms.
Despite the concern, work is continuing on plans to reopen indoor hospitality services. Legislation will be fast-tracked through the Oireachtas next week.
However, according to The Irish Examiner, the Cabinet is split about when exactly to reopen indoor drinking and dining as vaccine passes have emerged as the only viable option for the sector.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is said to support reopening on July 19th, while the Taoiseach favours delaying until a week later.
The hospitality sector is pushing for reopening on July 19th, the same day non-essential international travel is due to resume.
British prime minister Boris Johnson has said most coronavirus restrictions will lift in England from the same date.
Mr Martin said on Thursday that is he concerned about the “free for all that seems to be developing” in the UK and the implications for Ireland, as what happens there can “spill over fairly quickly”.
“Britain is obviously a sovereign nation and is entitled to make its decisions,” he said. But, he added: “Obviously they do impact on us as well so I think people need to be cautious and careful.”
Hospitalisations are “edging up” and Mr Martin suggested that modelling provided by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) appears to be borne out.
“What’s happening in Scotland and the UK seems to be bearing out with some of the Nphet modellings so we need to take it seriously,” said Mr Martin.
However, The Irish Times reports that public health officials are revising the modelling scenarios for a fourth wave arising from the deferment of indoor dining and its likely restriction to vaccinated people.
Elsewhere, Mr Reid said the growth of the Delta variant is likely to “outmatch” the supply of vaccines over the coming weeks. He said he wished there was more time, and more supplies, to enable the health service to stay ahead of the increase in cases.