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Practicing with pros to ukulele licences: Campaign launched to help public look after each other during Covid-19

The Taoiseach said the “emotional impact of distancing is hurting us all” during the launch of the health and wellbeing campaign.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris
Image: Leon Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said “there will be better times to come” as the government launched a campaign this afternoon to help the public look after each other during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Current exceptions to leaving home include essential workers travelling to work, and people going to shops for essential items, for vital family healthcare reasons or to take physical exercise within a 2km radius.

These restrictions have been in place since last month, and are set to last until 5 May at the earliest. 

“We follow restrictions, are staying at home and taking a painful decision to distance ourselves physically from friends and family,” Varadkar said today. “The emotional impact of distancing is hurting us all.”

The government’s health and wellbeing initiative includes a programme aimed at children called Let’s Play.

This online resource is designed to “remind us all of the fundamental importance of play,” Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said.

“They learn through play and the ways they understand our world and help connect us,” she said.

My department has worked with key experts and academic experts to develop this resource. There will be resources to support children with their feelings, health and wellbeing.

Let’s Play has a number of videos with ideas for children to encourage play and learning during the crisis.

Source: MediaDCYA/YouTube

More info about the Let’s Play initiative can be found here

Another new online resource has also been launched for parents called Parents Centre to provide additional supports for families at this time. 

A number of speakers spoke about the importance of staying active and staying connected during the current crisis.

Philomena Poole, from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, said there was a plethora of online resources from galleries, libraries, councils and other local agencies.

“Teenagers who are waiting for their driving test to get their licence, we are now going to give them a ukulele licence,” she said. (As pointed out here by Virgin Media News’ Gavan Reilly, a ukulele licence is a “thing”.) 

Sport Ireland CEO John Tracey said that famous Irish athletes would be sharing videos of themselves exercising and practising on social media to inspire others to try for themselves at home. 

Boxer Kellie Harrington said that health and wellbeing comes from within. She said: “Exercise helps you feel in a better mood.

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“You can do something simple by turning on your TV and it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can do any exercise. Those good endorphins are released and help you feel good.”

Asked about people not abiding by the Covid-19 restrictions and going outside the 2km radius of their homes, Minister for Health Simon Harris acknowledged that the guidelines were frustrating.

He said: “People have been incredible in this country but human nature is that people get a bit fatigued and stretch their understanding of what public guidelines are.

“It’s worth reminding people that the request is to stay at home to keep you and your family safe and older and vulnerable people safe. The 2km distance is frustrating but it is there to keep people safe. The alternative to what we are asking is a hell of a lot worse.”

Harris added a plea for people to continue to respect the public health advice and stay at home this weekend. 

“Lives are being saved thanks to people following the public health advice,” he said.

With reporting from PA

About the author:

Sean Murray

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