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Crunch time What to expect today as Cabinet considers recommendations to ease Covid-19 restrictions

The National Public Health Emergency Team met on Thursday night and agreed to recommend most measures can be relaxed

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Staff working at Kehoes pub in Dublin's city centre: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Staff working at Kehoes pub in Dublin's city centre: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A sign in the window of Bar Rua in Dublin's city centre: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A sign in the window of Bar Rua in Dublin's city centre: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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Staff working at Kehoes pub in Dublin's city centre: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The Cabinet will meet later to consider recommendations from health chiefs to end most of the state’s Covid restrictions.

It is understood that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended restrictions around hospitality can be lifted, including the 8pm curfew and ending the requirement for a Covid pass to enter premises.

Nphet met on Thursday evening and issued a series of recommendations in a letter to ministers.

They include that live venues and sport venues can return to full capacity, an end to restrictions on household guests and a phased return to work.

However the wearing of face masks is recommended to continue on public transport and in retail settings and Covid passes will still be needed for international travel.

In light of the recommendations, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has urged the Government to allow all hospitality businesses to trade as normal from Friday.

Government ministers will meet on Friday to assess the advice before Taoiseach Micheal Martin makes an announcement.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe told RTE it is reasonable to expect the state will be able to exit regulations at a faster pace than would have looked likely a number of weeks ago.

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A sign in the window of Bar Rua in Dublin's city centre: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A sign in the window of Bar Rua in Dublin's city centre: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A sign in the window of Bar Rua in Dublin's city centre: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

He said: “What we have done at all points in this pandemic is been guided by public health advice. We have looked to deploy timings that get the balance right between the needs to our economy and society and that of public health, and that is what we will continue to do.”

Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association, said the recommendations have been “eagerly awaited by the entire hospitality and late-night sectors for a long, long time”.

“Hopefully the Government will now move swiftly and there will be no delays to the full reopening and the scrapping of hospitality restrictions,” he said.

“Hospitality is ready and waiting to open our doors this weekend. If the Government gives the green light then the recovery of the hospitality and night-time sectors could begin as early as Friday night.”

Earlier, Mr Martin said he will give a “clear and comprehensive statement” on Friday about the plans for the weeks and months ahead.

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“The situation is positive. We have come through Omicron better than we might have expected prior to Christmas,” he told RTE.

“The combination of the booster campaign and vaccination and the fact that Omicron does not seem to be as virulent as Delta and previous waves has meant that the impact on people, in terms of severe illness and death and ICUs, has been much less.

“So, therefore, I think people can be positive, we can be positive.”

The country can expect a nationwide address from Taoiseach Micheál Martin at 6pm.

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