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Govt to look at phasing out pandemic supports from October – Varadkar

The Government will begin to look at phasing out financial pandemic supports in the final three months of the year, the Tánaiste has told colleagues.

Speaking at a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting tonight, Leo Varadkar indicated supports would remain in place throughout July, August and September.

These months will be used to give people time to return to work and to allow the economy recover, he said.

Mr Varadkar repeated that there would be no cliff-edge to the payments, which had been due to expire at the end of June.

The matter will be finalised by Cabinet next Tuesday.

Earlier, Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald called for the extension of the pandemic payments until the autumn at least.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin had told the Dáil that there would be targeted financial supports put in place to assist sectors such as aviation, hospitality and the arts, which were hardest hit by the pandemic.

Mr Varadkar also told Fine Gael TDs and senators tonight that the portal for 40 to 45-year-olds to register for vaccines should be open within days and they will have the option to take the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

He confirmed an announcement on international travel will be made on Friday.

The Tánaiste warned that the threat of a fourth wave is still real and there is a need to remain cautious for the coming weeks given that 2.5 million people still have not received any vaccine.

Separately, the Department of Health has been notified of 448 new cases of Covid-19.

The number of people with the virus in ICU is 41, unchanged since yesterday.

The department has also issued updated Covid-19 case numbers since 15 May, when an alternative approach to reporting daily figures was introduced following the cyber attack on the HSE’s IT systems.

The department said that the revised numbers were the result of “further validation process”.

Meanwhile, new coronavirus safety guidelines issued by Fáilte Ireland state that a maximum of six people aged 13 years and over will be allowed per table when restaurants, pubs and cafés open next month.

There will be no limit on how long customers can remain eating and drinking outdoors, nor will there be a limit on duration indoors where tables are at least two metres apart.

Also today, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told the Dáil that emergency pandemic measures, including additional powers for the gardaí, will only need to be extended “for a very short time”.

He said the regulations will be extended from 10 June until 9 November.

Mr Donnelly also said he had been in touch with the National Public Health Emergency Team and the “trajectory is positive”.

Elsewhere, a new report from the Health Information and Quality Authority has revealed some of the main factors behind outbreaks of Covid-19 in nursing homes.

It said there were a disproportionate number of deaths among those living in nursing homes during the early stages of the pandemic.

Among the key factors linked to outbreaks were: rising community incidence of Covid-19 around the home, the number of beds within the home and the presence of other nursing homes in close proximity.

In other Covid-related news, Belgium has decided that Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine against Covid-19 will be limited to people aged 41 and over, following the death of a woman who received the jab.

It comes as the European Union asked a Belgian court to impose penalties running to millions of euros per day on AstraZeneca for Covid-19 vaccine doses it has failed to deliver to the EU.

Elsewhere, authorities in Melbourne, Australia are scrambling to contain a growing Covid outbreak in the city.

Thousands of football fans were told to self-isolate and get tested for coronavirus after an infected spectator attended an Australian Rules match locally.

Article Source – Govt to look at phasing out pandemic supports from October – Varadkar – RTE – Mícheál Lehane

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