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Varadkar: Ireland coming to the point where it needs to 'move on' from Covid-19 restrictions

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was speaking on RTE Radio.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said he believes Ireland is coming to a point where it needs to “move on” from Covid-19 restrictions. 

Varadkar, speaking on RTE Radio’s This Week, said he believes that by the summer all restrictions will be lifted. 

The Tánaiste added that easing of restrictions will be on a phased basis over the coming months.

He said he would hope, and will be lobbying, for a broader and faster paced reopening of Irish society which will be in line with European countries.  

“I also do think we’re coming to the point where we also need to move on. We’ve had very strict restrictions in Ireland for two years now.

“If you take last summer, the summer before that, we had the strictest rules in Europe. I don’t think that should be the case this summer, and certainly as Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, who wants to get businesses open once again, people back to work and as a leader of the Fine Gael party that believes in individual freedom.

“I’ll be pushing for a more ambitious and a quicker reopening over the next couple of months – nothing risky, nothing reckless but certainly something that’s in line with our European peers,” he said. 

Varadkar said his hopes for the year ahead is that restrictions will be lifted and referenced an important date in March. 

“I think that should be the should be the aim. As you know, all the legislation actually falls on 31 March, (it) can be extended by three months.

“And you know, one thing I said yesterday to my party, is that on many occasions, we’ve acted out of an abundance of caution. But sometimes an abundance of caution can be an excess of caution. And we need to avoid that.

“And I’m very keen to see the reopening happening at an ambitious pace over the next few weeks next few months,” he added. 

On the need of an annual Covid-19 vaccine Varadkar speculated that this may be required for specific groups. 

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“Certainly, I think for older people and for people who are medically vulnerable, it may well be the case that we need to give them an annual vaccine for Covid in the way we do for flu, but that’s just not determined yet.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about this virus and as I mentioned earlier, there will be more variants, there will be another winter and immunity will wane and that’s why we need to make sure that while we reopen society rapidly, which is what I want us to do, that we have a rapid response in place if we need that and well,” he added. 

Health officials have reported an additional 10,753 positive PCR cases of Covid-19 in Ireland today.

There were also 4,208 positive antigen tests registered through the HSE website on Saturday.

As of 8am this morning, 965 people were in hospital with the virus, 88 of whom were receiving treatment in intensive care.

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