- Current public health measures remain in place until end January.
- Booster now open to everyone aged 16 and over across all channels - Government encourages everyone eligible to take up booster to help contain the impact of Omicron.
- Acknowledgement that the effort and solidarity of public is supporting the re-opening of schools and early childhood learning – a priority for Government.
- Pre-departure testing no longer required with effect from 00.01 am on Thursday, 6th January 2022, except for travellers that are not vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
The Government met on Wednesday, 5th January and noted that the overall epidemiological situation in Ireland continues to give rise to significant concern with disease incidence high and daily COVID-19 case counts substantially exceeding the highest previously reported in the pandemic to date.
The rapid pace of the Vaccination Programme has been central in offsetting the impact of the Omicron wave of the disease. The Booster Programme has now been extended to all those aged 16 and over and Government is encouraging everyone who is eligible to take up the opportunity to avail of it through a wide range of options including online booking options and walk-in options for vaccination centres, or through participating pharmacies and GPs.
Contingency planning across society and the economy has also been critical to containing the current wave and allowing Ireland to remain at the current level of restrictions. Government Departments are continuing to monitor arrangements and contingency planning for high rates of absence or risk to critical infrastructure/essential services and liaising closely with sectoral representatives across the economy and society.
Within the Health sector, it was noted that the sharp escalation in cases has placed healthcare systems under great pressure, both from the impact of people being hospitalised and from staff shortages related to COVID-19 infection or contact. Here too contingencies are in place to maximise and increase capacity and all areas are operating at surge volumes and with appropriate prioritisation.
Government agreed the current measures to control the disease should remain in place and acknowledged the sacrifice of the public and businesses in supporting the measures in order to minimise the impact of Omicron.
These combined efforts mean that schools and early childhood learning are re-opening this week within public health guided frameworks. This is consistent with the Government’s prioritisation of these sectors for both the well-being, as well as the education, of our children and young people.
Government also accepted the recent public health advice that additional international travel requirements applied in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant be removed and previous measures re-applied i.e. no requirement for pre-departure testing except for those travellers that are not vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
Government is continuing to request that people limit their contacts throughout the coming period to the greatest degree possible and that visits to private homes should be kept to a maximum of 3 other households (i.e. 4 households in total); and that the public engage with the R.S.V.P. #BeRiskAware information campaign which encourages people to assess the risk involved in any activities they are planning and to ask themselves the right questions about Risk, Symptoms, Venue and People.
Five important steps that everyone can take to help stop the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19
- If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 then stay at home. If you are aged between 4-39 then you should take an antigen test. If you get a positive result then you should book a PCR test. For those aged 3 or under or 40 or over - you should still book a PCR test as soon as you notice symptoms.
- Get vaccinated and boosted – being vaccinated offers good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation and lowers the risk to you and others.
- Do not attend for your booster if you have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last three months. Do not attend for your booster if you are currently restricting your movements because you are a close contact – you can reschedule your appointment for a later time.
- Remember to R.S.V.P. before you meet up with people – think of the Risk, Symptoms, Venue, People – go to gov.ie/riskaware to help assess the risk involved in any activities you have planned and the measures you can take to minimise your risk.
- Take account of your overall health, your vaccine status, and the spread of Omicron in other countries before you decide to travel.
Note for Editors:
Update on International Travel
Government was advised that the additional international travel requirements applied in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant should be removed and previous measures re-applied such that:
- Vaccinated or recovered travellers into Ireland are required to present evidence of a valid Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) or other acceptable proof of vaccination/previous infection prior to travel;
- Travellers that are not vaccinated or recovered [with the exception the exemptions specified on gov.ie, including children aged 11 and under] are required to present evidence of a not detected RT-PCR test carried out no more than 72 hours before their arrival into Ireland; and
- Any individual that develops COVID-19 symptoms should follow the HSE guidance in relation to isolation and undertaking antigen or RT-PCR testing as appropriate.
The Minister for Health will amend the Travel Regulations to give effect to the above from 00.01 am on Thursday, 6th January 2022.
Booster / Vaccination Programme
- Over 9.7 million vaccines were administered to the 3rd January, including over 2.2 million booster and third doses.
- Ireland is 2nd in the EU for full vaccinations of over 18 year olds, which is at 94% as at 3rd January.
- Ireland is 1st in the EU for booster vaccinations for the adult (18+) population, at 57% as per the ECDC on 4 January 2022.
- Registration portal for 5-11 year olds went live on 28th December for those in this group considered to be at high risk from infection, registration for all others in the group went live on 3rd January.