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case surge Nphet recommend expanding use of Covid passes beyond hospitality sector

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Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Photos

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Photos

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Photos

The National Public Health Public Emergency (Nphet) has formally urged the Government to expand the use of Covid passes beyond the hospitality industry.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Tony Holohon’s team did not point to specific areas where they could be used but did recommend an increased role for the passes as the number of new Covid-19 cases continues to surge.

Earlier this week, Mr Holohan said he is in favour of Covid certificates being required for entry to gyms, hairdressers and barbers.

Other EU countries are also introducing new laws requiring people to show passes to enter businesses other than the hospitality industry as the fourth wave of Covid rips across the continent.

Expanding the use of Covid passes for other areas of society is likely to require new legislation which would have to be voted through the Dáil.

The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 will meet on Monday to discuss Nphet’s recommendations.

In a letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, the CMO did not advise imposing any new restrictions but warned they could not be ruled out in the future.

“Nphet noted that similar challenges are being faced in many other countries across the EU, with many EU Member States re-introducing a range of public health protective measures, and more recently it is being reported that some are considering the re-imposition of more stringent social and economic restrictions,” Mr Holohan said.

“While the Nphet is not currently recommending the re-imposition of social and economic restrictions, it must be noted that this cannot be fully ruled out,” he added.

He also recommended the continued use of masks and social distancing.

Nphet is also urging people to work from home where possible in a bid to get “dangerously high” Covid-19 case numbers under control.

They recommended strengthening and reinforcing a whole range of public health messaging over the coming weeks.

Employees should be encouraged to work from home where possible and feasible, while recognising some workplaces remain open.

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In those circumstances, employers should be encouraged to have protective measures in the workplace, Nphet is advising.

The letter outlines 24 outbreaks in work settings last week which included 10 in manufacturing businesses, four in commercial firms and four in offices.

There were three outbreaks linked to pubs, three relating to hotels and one associated with a Café. There were seven related to social gatherings, give linked to retail outlets and three associated with religious ceremonies. There were 39 outbreaks in private houses.

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