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People should use own judgement on bringing children to restaurants

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said people will “exercise their own judgement” on whether or not they should bring their children to eat indoors in restaurants once Covid-19 restrictions on this are eased.

His remarks come after the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan said it is “safer” not to bring children to restaurants for indoor dining “even though these kinds of things might be possible.”

Dr Holohan said: “That would be the responsible public health advice” and pointed out that dining outdoors is possible.

Indoor services in restaurants and pubs are due to resume for people who have been vaccinated or have recently recovered from Covid-19 by July 26th at the latest.

Children under 18 will also be allowed dine inside in a ‘family bubble’ despite not being vaccinated.

At a press conference on Thursday Mr Martin was asked about Dr Holohan’s comments and whether parents should leave their children at home.

He said: “My view on that is the Government made a decision. People can bring their children in.

“One has to have a balance here in terms of how people operate and how people live their lives.”

Mr Martin said the CMO offers advice but the Government has broader issues to consider.

He added: “I think the key point really is there is a need for personal responsibility. We need to trust people as well.

“And I think people have learned themselves throughout the journey of this pandemic how it can impact and how deadly it can be.”

He also said: “I think Government has approached all of this in a cautious way.”

He said people will “exercise their own judgement” on whether or not to bring their children for indoor dining.

“I think in many instances there won’t be any difficulty in terms of children accompanying parents in a controlled environment.

“Remember there are significant controls in a restaurant for example in terms of what’s envisaged in terms of the sector’s guidelines,” he said.

‘It’s confusing’

Earlier, public health expert Professor Anthony Staines has said that children could not safely dine indoors in restaurants with their parents at current Covid-19 incidence rates.

Professor Staines told Newstalk Breakfast that if case numbers stay high then, unfortunately, it would not be safe for children to dine indoors with their parents.

“If there were 10 cases of Covid in the country per day, it would be irrelevant, more or less. But there’s not – there were over 700 last night. The numbers are expected to rise,” he said.

While children seldom became seriously ill with Covid-19, they could still spread the virus at a similar rate to adults, he said.

Prof Staines said he hoped that by September the situation would have improved significantly as more people were vaccinated.

Trials were ongoing to see if it was safe to vaccinate children aged under 12, he added, and those results would help guide decisions on whether the vaccines should be rolled out to those younger age cohorts.

Dominique McMullan, Editorial Director at Image Media and a parent, told the Pat Kenny show, that there should be an agreed approach.

“It’s the ambivalence that bothers me, it’s confusing, on the one hand they’re saying that parents vaccinated can bring children to restaurants and on the other hand, they’re saying not to bring them (children) and of course I agree that safety is a priority.

“It’s just not clear, if they were clear and said ‘don’t bring children into restaurants’ then fine, then I would follow the Government advice, but it is being told two different things by two different people who are in the same government which is just confusing. I think it’s going to lead to very difficult situations for restaurant owners and parents alike.

“Common sense of course has to be used – if your kid is any way symptomatic then of course you’re not going to be bringing them anywhere any way, but you need to lead from the front here. We need to have clear advice. That’s been missing, a lot.”

Vaccines

Meanwhile, Mr Martin said he could not confirm when the deal to buy one million vaccine doses from Romania will be finalised.

It was revealed at the start of the month that a deal was agreed in principle for Ireland to buy 700,000 Pfizer and 300,000 Moderna vaccines from after it became apparent there was going to be a low take up by Romanians of the vaccines.

The Irish Mail on Sunday reported at the weekend that the deal is not yet finalised with issues under discussion including the expiration dates of available vaccines.

Asked for an update Mr Martin said there is continuing discussions between the health departments in Ireland and Romania but “they haven’t been brought to fruition yet.”

He said he is still “hopeful” the purchase will go ahead and that the Romanian side were “quite positive last week but we’re going to have to engage.”

“As I said at the time there was a lot of logistical issues had to be worked out at the time and that remains the situation.”

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NCC sells Valby office scheme (DK)

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NCC is selling Kontorværket 1 office project in Valby, Copenhagen to Industriens Pension. The building will become biotech company Genmab’s new headquarters and will meet high environmental standards for both the building and the area. The transaction will be conducted as a company divestment, based on an underlying property value of approximately €81.9m (SEK875m). Transfer of the project and payment of the purchase consideration is expected to result in a positive earnings effect in the NCC Property Development business area in the first quarter of 2023.

 

“We are now selling Kontorværket 1, the first phase of our development project in Valby in the central parts of Copenhagen. Here we have developed property with an optimal infrastructure and appealing architecture, and I am pleased that Industriens Pension is now taking over,” said Joachim Holmberg, Business Area Manager, NCC Property Development.

 

Kontorværket 1 encompasses 16,000m² of lettable area and also includes a basement featuring a parking garage next to the building, with space for 280 vehicles and facilities for parking bicycles.

 

“This is an attractive and future-proof office property, located in an area with very good infrastructure, a motorway, a nearby metro and S-train station. The 15-year lease with Genmab fits well with our strategy as a long-term owner, and we expect the property to contribute a stable return for our members for many years to come. We look forward to welcoming Genmab’s experts in biotechnology,” said Soren Tang Kristensen, Head of Real Estate Investments, Industriens Pension.

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Consumers will NOT see energy bills rise amid £21bn upgrade, Ofgem says

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Ofgem has said Britons will not see their energy bills rise as a result of the regulator’s plans to pump £21billion into upgrades for the nation’s electricity networks.

The proposed package of £20.9billion, which will be paid for by levies on the energy industry, includes £2.7billion worth of upfront funding to boost grid capacity. 

Ofgem’s aim is to help create greener and more sustainable energy grids across Britain, thereby boosting grid capacity, improving customer service and building resilience against power outages.

Investment injection: Ofgem has said Britons will not see their energy bills rise amid plans to pump £21bn into upgrades for the nation's electricity networks

Investment injection: Ofgem has said Britons will not see their energy bills rise amid plans to pump £21bn into upgrades for the nation’s electricity networks

‘Flexible funding arrangements will also mean that investment can dial up to reflect changing demands over time’, Ofgem said. 

Ofgem said in its statement today: ‘Consumers will not see any additional costs as result of this investment as efficiency savings and reduced investor returns deliver the cash needed.’

The upgrade, according to the regulator, would also enable consumers to be given more control to save money through regularly updated prices for peak and off-peak demand. 

Ofgem also said more support and guidance for vulnerable and low-income households would be available in future ‘to ensure no one misses out on the benefits of a net zero energy system’.

The regulator also revealed how much the companies in charge of the nation’s energy networks will be allowed to earn.

The regulator is proposing to reduce the cost of equity allowance for the companies to 4.75 per cent, down from 6 to 6.4 per cent for the current period, which ends next year. 

The average customer currently pays around £100 a year to operate, maintain and reinforce grids.

Ofgem said: ‘The 2023 to 2028 plan will boost grid capacity, improve customer service and resilience to prevent power outages, and prepare the way for increases in the generation of cheaper, greener, home-grown energy to bring down bills in the long-term.’

Ofgem boss Jonathan Brearley said: ‘Ofgem’s job is to ensure energy networks have achievable and affordable plans that will attract the investment needed for a more resilient energy network and achieve the government’s net zero ambition at the least cost to the consumer.

‘These are challenging times, and this is the path out of relying on expensive and polluting imported fossil fuels and moving to a home-grown energy system, that exploits the best of modern technology to level out demand and reduce costs for consumers.

‘We’re determined to get the best possible deal for consumers and the proposals we’ve published today will mean that substantial additional investment can be made to deliver net zero without placing any further pressure on bills.

‘We’re confident that the five-year vision we’ve outlined will help build the world class energy infrastructure needed to connect consumers to reliable, cleaner energy at an affordable price.’

Electricity giant SSE said the plans were ‘tough and stretching’, while National Grid said it will ‘work hard’ with Ofgem on the plans ahead of final determinations expected in December. 

Ofgem will hold consultations on the proposed plan until 25 August with a final decision to be confirmed in December. 

Last week the National Audit Office confirmed consumers will need to pay £2.7billion to cover the costs of 28 energy suppliers failing since June 2021.

The NAO said energy bill payers had ‘borne the brunt’ of the failures and accused Ofgem of creating a market ‘vulnerable to large-scale shocks’. 

The government is also spending taxpayer funds to support green energy supplier Bulb, which collapsed last November. 

Ofgem and the Government should create a process for considering the impact of new interventions in the retail market, according to the NAO, including the price cap. It also said Ofgem should establish a set of objectives for its regulation of the retail market and report on its performance. 

Average energy bills have surged to £1,971 a year and are expected to top £2,800 a year in October, before hitting £3,000 in January 2023. 

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: ‘Utility companies are not exactly jumping with joy at Ofgem’s new electricity distribution price control proposals, with SSE calling them ‘tough and stretching.

‘Energy providers would argue they are under pressure to invest heavily to improve infrastructure, make sure the supply network is resilient, and that everything is being done to hit net zero targets.

‘On the other hand, the regulator has long had its eye on the amount of money these companies make, and whether their profits and dividends should be so high.

‘National Grid says it will work ‘hard’ with Ofgem to agree a price control suitable for both sides, but you can bet behind the scenes those discussions are going to get quite heated.

‘Politically this is a sensitive issue, with consumers under considerable financial pressure from a sharp rise in energy bills.

‘The regulator will have to tread a fine between making sure the country’s energy network is robust and efficient, while also being fair to the operators that they can do their job and make a small bit on the side. It’s the size of that cake that remains the sticking point.’

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Radisson launches new resort in Greece

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Radisson continues its expansion with the latest launch of Radisson Blu Euphoria Resort, Mykonos. Located steps from golden Kalo Livadi beach with its bars, restaurants, and vibrant live music scene, the hotel features 34 stylish rooms and suites that draw inspiration from the famous whitewashed architecture of the Cyclades, with white walls and furniture complemented by light wood tones, creating an elegant and soothing ambiance and that special island vibe. Most rooms offer spectacular views of the bay and the Aegean Sea, including the grand Euphoria Suite with its spacious terrace and private pool.

 

The resort’s stylish Euphoria Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere set against a breathtaking Cliffside backdrop. The menu features delicious and healthy dishes prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients, reflecting the best of Greek cuisine, accompanied by a wine list to match. The impressive pool at the heart of the resort offers sunbeds to enjoy the views under the Cycladic sun, while Euphoria Pool Bar serves snacks, juices, or cool drinks throughout the day.

 

Radisson Blu Euphoria Resort, Mykonos is a perfect soft wellness destination for guests looking to relax and unwind with spa treatments, massages, and facial treatments, including bespoke wellness packages, as well as an indoor Jacuzzi and a Hammam to help guests find their inner Zen.

 

Anna Bodeci, General Manager of the resort, said: “We are delighted to join the Radisson Blu brand, as we share the same values not only on sustainability, our code of ethics and people development but also on creating remarkable guest experiences. The whole team at Radisson Blu Euphoria Resort, Mykonos is eagerly looking forward to welcoming our guests and create the most amazing summer memories in Mykonos.

 

Yilmaz Yildirimlar, Area Senior Vice President at Radisson Hotel Group added: “Radisson Blu Euphoria Resort, Mykonos is a true gem and a great addition to our resort portfolio after the opening of Radisson Blu Zaffron Resort, Santorini last year and with Radisson Resort Plaza Skiathos coming in July. With meticulous attention to detail and our signature personalized service, we are excited to welcome guests to this new resort for anyone looking for a relaxing, luxurious island vacation.

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