Public health officials are considering a limit on close contacts as a possible restriction this Christmas when Ireland moves out of Level Five lockdown.
A specific restriction on the number of people we meet might be allowed as NPHET examines options for keeping Covid-19 transmission low in December.
Chairman of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) Dr Cillian De Gascun said this possible restriction does not rule out the reopening of pubs and restaurants.
“When we come out of the six weeks, we can’t do what we did in August and September, because obviously that didn’t work,” De Gascun told RTÉ Radio One.
Dr Nuala O’Connor, who is the Covid-19 lead for the Irish College of General Practitioners said we need to think carefully about the approach to Christmas. O’Connor told the Irish Independent: “Christmas is really important in Ireland. What we have to do if try and focus on how we can have a Christmas but in a safer manner.”
Ireland’s Covid-19 reproduction number (R0) now stands at 0.7 to 0.9, and, with Level Five restrictions expected to be lifted in December, the priority of NPHET will be to keep it below 1.
De Gascun said: “The challenge is identifying what that number of close contacts is going to be because we want the R0 to ideally be below one, and the problem is if we’re looking at say, for argument’s sake, three close contacts versus four close contacts, that could flip the balance of an R0 from below one to above one.”
“We need to focus on what we want to prioritise as a society and then what we can do from a discretionary perspective.”