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All ministers restricting their movements after member of Cabinet tests positive for Covid-19

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue tested positive for the coronavirus.

Image: Shutterstock/Daniel M Bradley

Updated Dec 23rd 2020, 1:16 PM

A MEMBER OF Cabinet has tested positive for Covid-19 and all ministers are now restricting their movements and awaiting a Covid-19 test.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue (Fianna Fáil) has tested positive for the coronavirus. McConalogue was in Brussels recently for a European Commission meeting.

It is also understood that all ministers are being tested as a precautionary measure and will be restricting their movements until they receive their results.

Green Party leader and Minister Eamon Ryan was speaking to reporters when the news broke this afternoon. He said: “I absolutely wish Charlie well and a safe and speedy recovery and the same to all my colleagues.”

Yesterday’s announcement of Level 5 restrictions was preceded by a meeting of the full lineup of ministers.

Cabinet meetings

Cabinet meetings are currently not held in Government Buildings, but instead in Dublin Castle to allow for greater social distancing.

Cabinet meetings are usually held in the main conference room in Dublin Castle, with a gap of at least two metres between ministers. Yesterday’s Cabinet meeting was around two hours long, Minister Eamon Ryan said today.

He also told reporters that ministers do often wear masks, usually taking them off in order to speak. Ryan recalled that McConalogue was wearing a mask yesterday.

However Ryan said he did not want to get into too many details as it is a personal matter for McConalogue and his family.

Ryan said that like himself, McConalogue was in Brussels for a European Commission meeting last Thursday, with McConalogue there to deal with fisheries.

As part of that trip, politicians have to get tested for Covid-19. However, whether this was what led to the positive test has not been confirmed to date.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin carried out an end-of-year press conference last night in the wake of his press conference appearance alongside Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Greens leader Eamon Ryan yesterday afternoon, while Varadkar was interviewed in studio on Prime Time last night.

Martin was also interviewed by Claire Byrne about the latest Covid measures on RTÉ radio this morning.

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In a statement to TheJournal.ie, RTÉ has said it was fully compliant with public health guidelines during the interviews.

“RTÉ has adhered and will continue to adhere to applicable public health guidelines and to RTÉ’s own protocols which are designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among all staff and contributors who necessarily visit RTÉ sites.

In line with our protocols, social distancing and good hand hygiene were observed. Furthermore, frequently touched surfaces and mic shields were cleaned before and after use, in line with Studio Protocols.

If a person is deemed to be a close contact of a confirmed case, they are referred for a test and are advised to restrict their movement for 14 days from the last day they were in contact with the positive case.

This means staying at home and not having any visitors to the person’s home. Even if a test comes back negative, the close contact is advised to finish their 14 days of restricting their movements.

However, it is understood that other ministers who attended Cabinet are not being considered close contacts due to social distancing andmask wearing that was adhered to.

If they get negative result from their precautionary Covid test,  they will not have to restrict movements over Christmas.

Additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy, Christina Finn, and Daragh Brophy

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