By Cate McCurry, PA
Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said she expects the Cabinet will agree to advise people to continue restricting their movements to help reduce the number of Covid cases.
Ms McEntee said ministers will meet this week to discuss advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).
Nphet is meeting party leaders to discuss the Omicron Covid variant and its impact on health advice in Ireland.
The Cabinet will meet on Tuesday and are expected to agree a number of measures, including restrictions on school playdates, birthday parties and school gatherings.
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Ms McEntee said people are “generally ahead” of the Government in cutting down on their social activities.
“We have seen in the last few weeks, particularly as numbers have continued to increase, the general public have pulled back, be it cancelling large gatherings or just reducing and restricting their overall movements,” the Fine Gael minister added.
“When it comes to kids’ birthday parties or any type of gatherings, that is the case here too.
“We have to meet with Cabinet in the next day or two, we have a letter and advice from the chief medical officer and his team. Obviously we will explore that.
“I assume and I would guess at this stage that we will be advising and encouraging people to continue to restrict their movements.
“But we have to decide all of this collectively at Cabinet.”
Any restrictions agreed will be aimed at tackling case numbers ahead of the Christmas holidays.
Meanwhile, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys did not say whether there are plans to allow recently unemployed people to claim the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP).
“The PUP is currently being paid to people who are on it and that number has decreased considerably,” Ms Humphreys added.
“We are down to 55,000 people on PUP – further reduced this week again.
“That shows to me people are returning to work, the numbers on the live register are also decreasing.
“Like everything else with Covid, it takes some strange twists and turns and we always keep everything under review.”