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Nphet to disband in October as employees expected to return to office from September

Nphet will be disbanded and chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan will resume normal duties at Department of Health

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan

Fionnán Sheahan and Gabija Gataveckaite

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will be shut down from the middle of October as the Government aims to call an end to the Covid-19 emergency.

Meanwhile, employees are set to return to the office in phases from September 13.

Ministers yesterday discussed closing down a number of emergency groups set up during the crisis.

Nphet will be disbanded, the Irish Independent understands. The experts will still be on hand to advise the Government but not in the current form.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan will resume his normal duties at the Department of Health.

The continual updates from Nphet on the pandemic will also come to an end.

The High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 vaccination, which was in charge of the vaccine roll-out, will also cease to exist.

The task force was chaired by former DCU President Prof Brian MacCraith. However, there will still be an expert body on vaccines in existence.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is an independent expert group that advises the Department of Health. It was in existence before Covid-19 and will continue in its role.

The senior officials group of civil servants from key Government departments will break up. That committee was headed by Department of the Taoiseach secretary general Martin Fraser. It co-ordinated the response to the crisis across Government and also served as a liaison between Nphet and the Cabinet.

The three special groups were set up as a result of the pandemic. After 18 months , the Coalition is looking to wind down the emergency elements. Instead, the coronavirus will be managed by the Department of Health as a public health issue.

Ministers at the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 discussed winding down the groups from the middle of October. However, the plan has not been finalised.

The vaccination programme is almost completed and the HSE and Department of Health will remain in charge of booster roll-out and looking after vulnerable categories.

The Government is keen to turn the focus on to other important issues, such as housing .

The ministers on the committee will meet again on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will announce a new plan for living with Covid-19 on Tuesday evening.

The Sunday World can reveal that office workers are expected to return to the workplace in phases from September 13. Government officials will work over the weekend to finalise a roadmap for reopening with set dates, with September 20 a key date for lifting of remaining restrictions.

Employees will return to the office on a phased basis and guidelines will be provided as to how to deal with workers who contract the virus even if they are fully vaccinated.

Officials will also work to put in place guidelines for different sectors, the source said.

Capacity at outdoor events is likely to be increased before September 20.

The country will be fully opened up throughout the months of September and October. October will see higher-risk indoor activities such as nightclubs allowed.

Communions and confirmations will be able to resume in September as well as “phased relaxation” on the numbers attending outdoor events.

Ministers also discussed the use of vaccine certs for theatres and it is likely that the numbers attending horse racing events will be increased.

The final reopening of society will not go beyond November or December with September the “significant” month for reopening, the ­Taoiseach said.

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