Ireland’s entire cabinet told to stay home after health minister Stephen Donnelly tested for coronavirus

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All the members of Ireland’s cabinet have been told to restrict their movements after the country’s health minister tested positive for Covid-19.

Ireland’s parliament, the Dáil, was adjourned following the positive test amid fears it would have to pause business indefinitely. It eventually returned to sitting Tuesday night.

The move came just hours after ministers announced a new Covid-19 blueprint to further reopen the country’s economic, social and cultural life.

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Sean O Fearghail, the parliament’s speaker, told representatives: “I have very serious information. I’m told that arising out of events today, the cabinet must now self-isolate,” he said.

“Therefore the possibility of proceeding with business does not arise and the house stands adjourned, I suspect, until Tuesday next. Or until I’m directed by the Taoiseach to reconvene the house. So Dail adjourned until further notice.”

Health minister tested for virus

Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, arriving at the unveiling of the Irish Government’s blueprint for living with Covid-19 in Dublin (Photo: Julien Behal/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin later confirmed it could return to business at 8pm on Tuesday night.

Earlier, health minister Stephen Donnelly reported feeling unwell. It has been reported that he has contacted his GP for a Covid-19 test.

He took part in the cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, before later attending a press conference announcing the Government’s latest Covid-19 plan to move forward over the next six months.

The latest coronavirus figures released by Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team on Tuesday evening revealed three further deaths due to the virus.

Dublin ynder strict new rules

Ireland’s capital has seen a marked increase in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, with 218 positive cases in 24 hours. The capital city has been placed on some of the strictest rules.

Pubs that do not serve food can reopen on 21 September, except in Dublin where they must stay closed. From midnight on Tuesday, household visits in the city will be limited to six people from one other household.

Elsewhere, the limit will remain at six visitors from up to three households.

Unveiling the plan, Ireland premier Micheal Martin said: “When the vaccine is available, we will move quickly to implement a widespread vaccination programme, however I want people to understand that even before then, we can go much further in opening up economic, social and cultural life in our country.”

There have been a total of 31,549 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland since the pandemic began.