'mild among kids' | 

Varadkar says it's up to parents if children can go to nativity plays or panto

A Government decision will be made on Tuesday

Gabija Gataveckaite

It is up to parents to decide whether children can go to nativity plays or panto over the weekend as the Government will only make a formal decision on Tuesday, according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Last night, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) recommended that children under 12 should avoid communions, nativity plays and “comparable indoor seasonal events” for the next two weeks.

Sleepovers, birthday parties and play dates should also be avoided for the next two weeks, unless they can be outside and in small numbers.

Speaking today, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that it is up to parents to make a decision as Cabinet ministers are only set to meet on Tuesday to consider the advice from public health.

“The Government will consider the advice from Nphet, which we received last night, and will make a decision on Tuesday,” he said.

“Unless there’s a Cabinet meeting between now and then, the advice wouldn’t kick in until Tuesday.”

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Asked if children can go to a panto tonight or not, he said: “That’s a decision for parents to make, but again, I think it’s important to understand the reasoning behind the advice.”

Mr Varadkar said that parents should understand the “backdrop” to the advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan last night.

“The virus is looking for people that are unvaccinated, cases are actually now falling among the over 75s.

“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

“Unfortunately, children aged between 5 and 11 cannot be vaccinated yet, so they’re now more vulnerable than they would have been in the past. And we have seen a very sharp increase in infections in children under 11 in the past couple of weeks,” Mr Varadkar said.

He said that Covid is a “mild” illness in most cases among children.

“Thankfully, Covid is a mild illness in almost all cases among children but we just don’t want to take any chances.”

The Tánaiste said that he expects Government to issue new advice on Tuesday following the Nphet recommendation, rather than put in place legislation.

Mr Varadkar said that it will be “well into the spring” before most people receive their booster shot following the green light from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).

Niac today decided that all people over the age of 16 should get their booster, with pregnant women and people over 40 prioritised.

Niac is also set to make a decision on vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 “quite soon” after the European Medicines Agency’s approval yesterday.

He was speaking at the announcement of 700 jobs at Penney’s headquarters in Dublin this afternoon following €250m capital investment in Ireland.

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