An extension of the emergency powers legislation introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic has passed all stages in the Dáil.

The extension until November was passed after 73 TDs voted in favour and 68 against.

The legislation allows restrictions on things such as travel and social gatherings to be reimposed without a further Dáil vote before November.

The length of the extension was widely criticised by opposition parties and Independent TDs who said it was at odds with the plans to reopen society.

It comes after the National Public Health Emergency Team said there is increased confidence that the planned easing of restrictions for June remains low to medium risk.

It has also pointed to early evidence of high levels of vaccine effectiveness.

In its latest letter to the Government, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that vaccination was proceeding at or ahead of schedule, with high uptake.

NPHET also said that the incidence of Covid-19 is at or below what model scenarios projected in late April, for the progressive reopening in May and this month.

Daily Covid-19 case numbers are relatively stable at 400 to 500 a day.

The number of patients in hospital or in ICU is declining slowly and there has also been a significant decrease in mortality.

NPHET described the picture as broadly optimistic, but said Ireland remains vulnerable as a large proportion of the population has yet to be vaccinated.

There is also uncertainty about the impact of the Delta variant of concern, which originated in India. Up to late last week, 89 cases had been identified in Ireland.

The letter was sent to the Government on 26 May.

Meanwhile, registration for vaccination for people aged 40 to 44 has opened today, starting first with those aged 44.

The Health Service Executive has said that the fastest and easiest way is to register online, but it can also be done by phone.

Registration will be open for people aged 43 on Thursday, 42 on Friday, 41 on Saturday, and 40 on Sunday.

The registration and roll-out system has not been affected by the cyber attack.


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Meanwhile, Nursing Homes Ireland has said it has written to the Taoiseach asking for an urgent meeting following a commitment by Micheál Martin yesterday in the Dáil to a new relationship with private and voluntary nursing homes.

NHI has raised the question of a cliff edge in the sector following what it said was a Government decision to cease payment supports for enhanced infection prevention and staffing measures in the nursing home sector within 30 days.

It said it comes in the face of continued concern regarding new variants of Covid-19 emerging and warnings of a fourth wave.