Monday , March 8 2021

What’s in the government’s new plan for living with Covid?

Investments and the expansion of testing technologies and methods, as well as the expansion of the public health system, will increase, as will new criteria for measuring the impact of a “slow and gradual” reopening of the economy, according to the government’s new pandemic management plan.

The plan also contains harsh warnings about the economic impact of the pandemic and the future of extraordinary state aid for businesses and workers.

Limit of 5 km

Most directly, the government will consider extending the 5km exercise limit and easing restrictions on outdoor activities and meetings in early April – if progress continues on the number of cases.

However, according to a revised state plan for pandemic management, these relaxations, if they come, will provide bedding for three to four weeks in the period before anything else follows.

In addition to these changes, which will be considered as part of the review of the Covid Plan on April 5, the Government will consider easing restrictions on outdoor activities and meetings outside of another household and examine the gradual start of easing other restrictive areas, “Focusing on outdoor activities, including sports and some areas of construction ”.

There will still be a demand for work from home.

In addition to well-marked plans to continue school, care for children and expand pandemic revenues and business support, the government has announced another 20m euros to fund mental health and support vulnerable groups.

School and kindergarten reopening schedule

March 1:

Younger, older infants, first and second grade will return to primary, while sixth grade will return to secondary. Special schools will also return to full attendance, while children will return to preschool and early interventions.

March 8:

Preschool program for early care and education (mostly children aged three to five) due to reopening.

March 15:

Target date for return of remaining primary school children r

eturn – third to sixth grade – together with fifth year second level students. That date will be reviewed.

March 29:

Early learning and care (from birth to six years) and school-age childcare services (up to 14 years) will be reopened.

April 12:

Target date of return to school education of the rest of high school students: first to fourth year students.

Criteria for lifting restrictions

Although the government’s plan points out that these measures will be considered on April 5, it warns that “it is too early for the public health council to say how and when other restrictions should be eased given the current uncertainties.” As for the beginning of April, the document points out that the decision will be made on the basis of four different criteria:

1. The prevalence of the disease, measured by case numbers / incidence, and that the R number is “such that we can be sure that we can continue to control the disease”

2. Levels of hospital occupancy and critical care that protect the health service and allow safe continuation of care not covered by Covid

3. Continuous and steady progress in the vaccination program

4. New information about variants

The easing of restrictions will be “slow and gradual”, with spaced measures.

Antigen testing

The document promises further investment in public health, including “surveillance, monitoring and monitoring, use of new testing technologies, ventilation and research and innovation”.

The so-called “rapid” antigen tests, which critics say Ireland has slowly adopted, will be the subject of a new deployment plan that will be completed by mid-March.

Vaccine program

There is an update to the vaccination program, with a revised allocation order promised following new advice from the National Immunization Advisory Council (NIAC), which is considered to apply to those with chronic health conditions. He promises that the introduction will be limited to supply only “with the next phase focusing on the logistics of vaccination centers, recruitment and deployment of labor and continuous improvement of the ICT platform”.

International travel

Indicates that further action to restrict international travel may be on the way, with further measures that will “continue to be advanced” and that restrictions “will need to be constantly monitored to ensure that travel does not become a weak link in our response because domestic transmission has been brought under control. ”

Some scheduled clinical services on the schedule will be reintroduced by the HSE over the next few weeks, if the number of illnesses allows, if the number of illnesses allows.


The government’s plan describes a range of well-being and mental health plans, including activities for the benefit of citizens to “empower citizens”. Each government department will be asked to prepare an action plan to provide services “to mitigate backlogs and anticipate backlog of demand or unmet need arising from constraints.”


As for the police, the plan promises permanent high-visibility patrols and checkpoints in public facilities, while the Garda will “implement stops at the national level” to ensure that passengers are recently returned to quarantine and that the person required to conduct a PCR test, they must do so.

Next steps

The plan contains an extensive section on the next steps, detailing how the state will chart a path through the rest of the pandemic. This means that, while maintaining the Level 5 approach, new measures are being considered.

The framework will continue to provide “an appropriate mechanism to guide decision-making, but experience in recent months has underlined the importance of continuing to apply it in a flexible way, adapting public health risk management measures at a given time beyond any specific contextual considerations”.

There will be “detailed sectoral guidelines” for the measures to be applied at each level of the framework. The approach will be guided by three “overarching goals”: reducing the number of cases and keeping them at a low level, completing the vaccination of “all those indicated” and continuing to protect the most vulnerable, public health services, social welfare, education and child care.


He points out that the mitigation of measures “should be slow and gradual” with enough time between phases. However, it also signals a tendency that once Covid levels in the community are suppressed, they can be maintained through an approach that combines vaccines, public health, antigen testing and additional ventilation advice that promises to be completed by the end of March. These measures represent a shake-up of systems designed to control virus growth.

It promises to accelerate employment in public health in order to fulfill the promises from the 2021 budget on doubling the workforce in public health. It is also said that “further improvements are needed” in contact search and testing “to ensure the ability to quickly, proactively and aggressively combat outbreaks”.

It is said that there will be an “aggressive testing strategy with a low threshold for intervention” and “consideration of alternative referral pathways”. There will be “active testing and monitoring of close contacts”, introduction of retrospective contact search, “real-time data and intelligence and integrated data”, and promises of turnaround times, as well as a “shift towards a regionally based and organized response”.

Consideration will be given to expanding contact management programs and calling on the community to support people who isolate or restrict movement, as well as the expanded use of alternative accommodation for those who cannot self-isolate or restrict movement at home.

Silver bullet

The plan states that there is no “silver bullet” and that the disease is difficult to control at moderate levels. “Experience shows that it can be accelerated quickly if it is not aggressively and proactively suppressed” – giving priority to keeping the object as low as possible.

It promises more investment in genome sequencing, seroprevalence studies, IT, tools to monitor and prevent and control infection. There will be a role for “extended surveillance tests” and rapid test research studies. “The use of rapid tests in asymptomatic community populations is also being considered,” it said.

According to the plan, “a complex balance is established between fatigue and Covid-19 elasticity” and indicates the risk that high levels of fatigue could harm compliance, and that there are further risks that vaccinated people will be “less likely to comply with public health measures.” there are real risks “that there may be similar challenges in controlling Covid-19 next winter, due to the unknown impact of vaccines on transmission and variants, as well as risks from other diseases and the larger community if social distancing is not in place and lower levels of compliance.

The expert group will report on the issue of ventilation. To provide up to 250,000 vaccines per week, vaccine centers will be expanded and more vaccinators, including dentists, pharmacists and optometrists, will be trained, with more direct recruitment.

Pre-departure PCR tests will now be required for passengers in transit through Irish airports, while the categories of reasonable excuses for overseas travel will be narrowed. The document says it is “an unprecedented gathering for a country that is usually highly dependent on international travel”.

Targeted interventions

Extensions to the EWSS and PUP schemes by the end of June will cost about 1.3 billion and 1.6 billion euros, respectively, the plan says, with 250 million euros more for CRSS and 160 million euros for waiving commercial rates.

It indicates that, once the virus is brought under control, “it will be necessary to move away from the extensive and broad emergency support that exists” and towards more targeted interventions. As the recovery recovers, he warns that “steps will also be needed to put the ratio of government debt to income on a downward trajectory.”

It says aid will be amended and withdrawn, but that the economy will not “return to what it was before the pandemic.” “There will be lasting changes in the labor market and in the way goods and services are produced and traded,” as well as changes in work patterns and mismatches between skill sets and business needs. Restrictions will increase pressure on the banking sector, it warns.

Recovery plan

A National Economic Recovery Plan will be published, including measures to relaunch particularly challenging sectors such as tourism. He warns that “the domestic tax base is not enough to file” the current level of spending beyond a very short deadline.

“To ensure fiscal sustainability, it will be necessary to withdraw these temporary spending measures once vaccine introduction progresses and the economy reopens,” he warns, adding that Ireland’s debt is among the highest in the developed world, “another reason why fiscal sustainability will must warn sooner rather than later. ”He also warns that general aid prevents companies from transiting from declining sectors to expanding sectors.“ This means that once the economy reopens, aid must become more targeted. ”

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