Nationwide restrictions in Ireland look set to continue well into February, according to various reports in media yesterday. Cabinet is set to announce next week that Level 5 restrictions will continue beyond the original end-January date as the number of daily cases continues to remain high.
Although the daily incidence of cases has fallen sharply from the peak of over 1300 per million, the latest data still puts the daily cases over the past seven days at 583 per million. This compares to an EU average of c.300 per million people.
Goodbody Stockbrokers say it should not come as a major surprise that restrictions will continue. This will likely include the ongoing closure of schools and construction sites. February 22nd, post the school midterm break is a realistic timeline for opening these. The more contentious debate will be when the wider economy will be allowed to reopen.
The Irish Times reports that it may be late May or early June by the time that hospitality will be allowed to reopen. A key factor in this decision will be how quickly the vaccine can be rolled out. Up to 17 January, just 2% of the population had received a vaccine dose, but the pace of a vaccination has picked up after a slow start. Indeed, daily vaccinations in Ireland are at the joint fastest pace in the EU in the latest data.
According to Goodbody Stockbrokers, "The over 65s represent the greatest risk in this pandemic and account for 15% of the Irish population. It is reasonable to think that this group will be fully vaccinated by early April, but that depends on adequate supply. The administration of the doses is in domestic policymakers’ control. The supply of those doses is not. The debate about how to balance health and economic risks will emerge again, but not until a critical mass of the vulnerable portion of the population is vaccinated."