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Warning over reopening of hospitality ahead of lockdown-lifting decision

The Government is due to announce its plans for the lifting of restrictions on Friday.

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The Government is due to announce its plans for the lifting of restrictions on Friday (Niall Carson/PA)

The Government is due to announce its plans for the lifting of restrictions on Friday (Niall Carson/PA)

The Government is due to announce its plans for the lifting of restrictions on Friday (Niall Carson/PA)

Public health chiefs have warned the Government against the reopening of the hospitality sector ahead of Christmas.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended that pubs and restaurants only be allowed to serve takeaways throughout the month of December.

The Government had signalled that it would seek to allow restaurants and pubs serving food to reopen.

But Nphet is believed to have concerns about doing this in conjunction with lifting the restrictions on household visits.

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HSE chief executive Paul Reid urged people to avoid ‘congregated indoor settings to the greatest extent possible’ (Niall Carson/PA)

HSE chief executive Paul Reid urged people to avoid ‘congregated indoor settings to the greatest extent possible’ (Niall Carson/PA)

HSE chief executive Paul Reid urged people to avoid ‘congregated indoor settings to the greatest extent possible’ (Niall Carson/PA)

The Government is due to announce its plans for the lifting of restrictions on Friday.

Sources say they are “not surprised” by the recommendations made by the public health body.

A Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19, attended by chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and HSE chief executive Paul Reid, met on Thursday evening to discuss the plans.

Earlier, Mr Reid said he would inform the committee of the current status of the health sector and the risks posed by reopening society.

He said there was a “balanced set of risks” involved, between protecting the health service and the importance of Christmas in terms of mental health and wellbeing.

Mr Reid added: “Whatever decisions are made, we would be urging the public not to lose sight of everything that’s been achieved so far throughout the whole year.”

He urged people to avoid “congregated indoor settings to the greatest extent possible”.

It came as Dr Mike Ryan, of the World Health Organisation, urged families in Ireland to plan their Christmas celebrations in a way that reduces the risk of infection.

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A man walks past the Brown Thomas Christmas window on Dublin’s Grafton Street (Brian Lawless/PA)

A man walks past the Brown Thomas Christmas window on Dublin’s Grafton Street (Brian Lawless/PA)

A man walks past the Brown Thomas Christmas window on Dublin’s Grafton Street (Brian Lawless/PA)

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He told RTE News: “Those of us who are visiting those families need to be absolutely aware that we need to reduce the chance that we can infect somebody else, even if we don’t know that we have that infection.”

Dr Ryan added: “The risk of this disease increases the closer you are and the more people in an area, and for the duration you’re there.

“So, even within a household, there are risky moments and risky situations. And there are situations that are less risky.

“Going out for a walk with your family after Christmas dinner is a hell of a lot less risky than everyone piling into the sitting room and turning on the TV and 15 people in a single room for three hours with the windows closed.

“I think each and every family has to lay out its plan for its Christmas celebrations and how each family is going to manage the risk and reduce the risks in the household over that period.”

Thursday recorded three further deaths related to Covid-19 and an additional 335 confirmed cases.

It brings the total number of deaths in Ireland to 2,036, with a total of 71,494 confirmed cases.

There are currently 246 Covid-19 patients in Irish hospitals while the number of people in intensive care units with the virus is 35, down one in the past 24 hours.

Of the newly confirmed cases, 119 were in Dublin, 29 in Kilkenny, 23 in Limerick, 20 in Donegal, 19 in Tipperary, 19 in Cork, with the remaining 106 spread across 19 other counties.

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