We urgently need clarity on Nphet’s figures and their projections
The government’s plans to reopen the country are unworkable, unenforceable and raise serious legal and ethical issues, according to Social Democrats Health Spokesperson Róisín Shortall.
“In his address today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the government wanted to reopen the country in a “sensible” and “balanced” way. The government’s proposed vaccine passport, to enable vaccinated people can gain entry to pubs and restaurants, is neither.
“It is completely unworkable, totally unenforceable and raises serious legal and ethical issues. Is the government seriously suggesting it should stand over a system predicated on unvaccinated younger people serving older vaccinated people in the hospitality sector – and those younger people being unable to dine in those establishments themselves?
“Who is going to enforce this? In what way will it be enforced? What will be the penalties for non-enforcement? Will a legal liability attach to those premises that don’t adequately enforce this measure? How much time will it take to devise such a system?
“We have no answers to any of these questions. More importantly, the hospitality sector has no answers – just one week before indoor dining was supposed to reopen.
“Opposition parties have not seen Nphet’s figures or projections. We also do not know if Niac’s revised vaccination programme, in which younger people can avail of Astra Zeneca with a shorter interval between first and second dose, factored into Nphet’s calculations – given that announcement was only made last night.
“We have been provided with no detail about the manner in which their projected figures – which were much worse than anyone had envisaged – were arrived at.
“On Morning Ireland yesterday, Professor Cathal Walsh, a member of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, stated that deferring indoor dining would lead to a 10pc reduction in cases by the end of July. Today, we are told that if the plan proceeds we could have 700,000 cases by the end of September.
“We are now in a situation in which more than 40pc of adults are fully vaccinated and more than 60pc of people have received a first vaccine dose. At what point, in the vaccination schedule, is Nphet suggesting it will be safe to reopen indoor dining?
“There is a complete vacuum of information currently. We also have no idea whether any alternative risk assessments were carried out – for instance, modelling on the level of covid transmission in indoor settings which have a reduced number of customers and a high level of ventilation.
“We urgently need clarity on Nphet’s figures and their projections. The only certainty is that the proposed vaccine passport, for the hospitality sector, is utterly unworkable.”
29 June, 2021