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No relief yet for anxious retailers waiting for news about Christmas

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A man outside Penney’s in Dublin city centre. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

A man outside Penney’s in Dublin city centre. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

A man outside Penney’s in Dublin city centre. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Decisions on whether desperate retailers, restaurants and pubs can reopen will go "down to the wire", it emerged yesterday.

They will have to wait until the end of the month before knowing if they will get the green light to open for the crucial pre-Christmas trading season.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan ruled out giving earlier advice to Government during the lockdown despite encouraging signs yesterday the severe restrictions are working.

The number of daily Covid-19 cases fell to 270.

However, there was one additional death.

Dr Holohan said the six-week lockdown will continue and what happens after December 1 will depend on "where we are".

He indicated that measures will be in place after early December and people will still have to maintain a very "high standard of public health practice".

He said there will be specific advice to the public about Christmas.

So far, there have been outbreaks associated with funerals, compounding the grief and distress of mourners with illness, he added.

There are also cases happening in healthcare settings and the advice is that if people have any potential symptoms, they should not go to work.

There is "nothing inevitable" about a third wave of the virus here, but factors such as a high level of compliance in anti-Covid behaviour as well as the ability of the health system to test and trace were important, he added.

Yesterday's new cases included 103 in Dublin, 34 in Limerick, 20 in Donegal, 12 in Cork, nine in Kerry and nine in Kilkenny. The other 83 cases are spread across 20 other counties.

Minks

Work is currently being carried out on identifying how to implement more targeted measures based on assessment of high and low risk areas.

There was also in fall in hospitalisations yesterday to 291 patients, although 39 seriously ill people with the virus remain in intensive care.

It comes amid rising concern about the potential strain of Covid-19 linked to minks, which originated in Denmark.

The new mutation is not more virulent or transmissible but it could impact how effective Covid-19 vaccines are.

No case of the new strain has been diagnosed here but mink farms in Kerry, Donegal and Laois are to be tested in case there are any outbreaks in animals.

GPs and other clinicians have been asked to have increased awareness of the possibility of Covid-19 in people who have travelled from Denmark in the previous 14 days.

The advice from the Irish College of General Practitioners to doctors is to: "Advise the person to self-isolate and arrange for Covid-19 testing if they have any symptoms suggestive of Covid-19.

"A low threshold for testing is advised," it added.

It said that Covid-19 infection prevention and control precautions should be strictly adhered to when dealing with those who have returned from Denmark in the previous 14 days.

Anyone coming from Denmark needs to restrict movements for 14 days as a precaution.

GPs were told to assess whether an individual has returned from Denmark and delay elective and non-urgent treatment.

Cases were spreading fast in Denmark - 207 mink farms in Jutland are affected - and at least five cases of the new virus strain were found.

12 people had become infected, the authorities said.


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