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22/09/2021

Taoiseach warns Covid-19 restrictions to remain until next year

Taoiseach warns Covid-19 restrictions to remain until next year

Taoiseach warns Covid-19 restrictions to remain until next year

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has indicated that many Covid-19 restrictions will be in place well beyond Christmas and possibly into next spring.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, the Taoiseach said we were entering a new era of the virus and pandemic where the emphasis will shift from restrictions to personal responsibility.

However, he did concede that the easing of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions will take "quite a number of months."

Social distancing and the wearing of masks indoors and on public transport are likely to remain with us well into 2022.

The Taoiseach said a new roadmap for this phase of the pandemic would be issued by government on August 31. Sectors like the live events industry are hoping for clarity on when they can return to work. 

It's likely test events will take place throughout August and September with it looking unlikely there will be any further easing of restrictions before the end of September. 

The Taoiseach outlined his frustration with the high level of transmission in Ireland despite the country having one of the highest vaccine uptakes in Europe. He said high levels of Covid-19 were circulating in the community.

He pointed to the higher levels of Covid-19 in Britain and our close relationship with our neighbours, particularly in Northern Ireland, as factors in our rising cases. He said patterns show the highest level of Covid-19 in the Republic occurring in Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal.

Talking further about the slow easing of restrictions, the Taoiseach said he and his government colleagues, as well as health chiefs, were wary of the winter period approaching and the potential for new variants and pressure on the health service.

He said there will be "constant monitoring" of the situation in healthcare settings to avoid putting pressure on frontline workers who battled Covid-19 in huge numbers throughout 2020.

He is happy with the uptake of the vaccine in Ireland with almost 85% of adults in Ireland now fully vaccinated, however, he does expect a booster vaccine campaign to begin soon. Mr Martin is waiting for advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) in that regard within the next ten days.

Ireland has also committed to donating 300,000 vaccines to poorer countries in the coming weeks with more donations to follow in the coming months.

The final roadmap for the continued easing of restrictions over the coming month will be decided next week with a Cabinet sub-committee meeting on August 28 before a full Cabinet meeting to sign off on the plan.

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