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Varadkar says health advice stands whether at 'Level 1,2,3,4,5 or 26' as opposition criticises 'utter confusion'

Varadkar said people outside the three counties at Level 4 should not be complacent.

Image: Oireachtas.ie

Updated Oct 15th 2020, 5:56 PM

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said that “if people aren’t doing what they need to do” the Living with Covid-19 roadmap is not going to work. 

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Varadkar said that people need to follow public health advice “whether we’re at level 1,2,3,4, 5 or 26″. 

The Tánaiste was speaking after last night’s announcement that counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are to move to Level 4 of the government’s Living with Covid-19 plan. 

The other 23 counties in the Republic of Ireland are to stay at Level 3 but tougher measures have been introduced in those areas to stop households mixing

Varadkar said this afternoon that the move to Level 4 in the three counties was a “bitter blow” to the people living there but that people outside these areas should not be complacent. 

“It is not for people in any part of Ireland to take any comfort from the fact that the rules are stricter in these three counties,” he said.

This virus is circulating in the community, in every county in Ireland and we need to see it that way and understand that that’s the case, and make sure that we comply with public health advice and change our behaviours in every part of Ireland, in all 32 counties.

“We need to embrace that public health advice. Because whether we’re at Level 1,2,3,4,5 or 26, if people aren’t doing what they need to do, it’s not going to work,” he added, referencing the HSE’s public health advice

“It is those behaviours that will get this virus under control because that’s what got this virus under control back in the spring when we all work together as a nation to do so.”

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Labour leader Alan Kelly said there was “utter confusion” in the public in relation to the different levels and that the government needs to “stick to the plan”. 

“They need to move between levels, if necessary, but they need to stick to what they have published. This was sent out to every home in the country,” Kelly said, holding a copy of the government’s roadmap. 

Unless they change tact, this will be irrelevant. It should be it will be used for lighting the fire rather than actually beats being studied. 

003 Labour Covid Labour leader Alan Kelly. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Varadkar had been  responding to Sinn Féin Donegal TD Pearse Doherty who said that people in the three counties moving to Level 4 have already gone to “great lengths” to stem infection rates. 

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“I know the restrictions imposed will cause alarm for many, many people. And I think we need to remind people that there are exemptions on compassionate grounds. And while it’s clear that we don’t want anybody at all breaching these restrictions, common sense needs to prevail,” he said. 

Doherty also called on the government to reverse the cut to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), asking Varadkar to “do the right thing, given the increased levels of restrictions”. 

In response, Varadkar said that the PUP was “supposed to last for 12 weeks” and that changes were required so the government could extend it “well into next year”. 

On the planned further cut to PUP in February, Varadkar says there is “flexibility to extend that deadline”.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said on Tuesday that a planned review of the PUP and other issues in January would consider that planned cut. 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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