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We should be a ‘less puritanical’ and a 'little more relaxed' about those enjoying themselves outdoors, says Varadkar

Speaking this afternoon at Dublin Castle he said that socialising outdoors is “much, much safer” than indoors.

Cabinet will meet again on Thursday.
Cabinet will meet again on Thursday.
Image: Sasko Lazarov

PEOPLE SHOULD BE “a little less puritanical” when it comes to criticising those that are enjoying themselves outdoors, according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. 

Speaking this afternoon at Dublin Castle he said that socialising outdoors is “much, much safer” than indoors.

“In relation to people meeting outdoors and gathering outdoors, I think we are going to have to be a little less puritanical about that,” he said.

“I think we are just going to need to be a little bit more relaxed about people getting outdoors and maybe even enjoying themselves a bit outdoors,” he added.

“The chances of contracting the virus outdoors are much less than indoors,” said the Tánaiste, who added that if people are outside, they should pick up their litter and bring it home. Though he noted that there should also be more bins around. 

If people are meeting up outside, it should only be with one other household, he said, citing public health advice.

His comments come ahead of the government’s announcement on Thursday about what easing of restrictions might take place in May, June and July. 

Last week, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said he believed further easing of restrictions that was anticipated could be on the cards, particularly when it comes to outdoor activities.

The Taoiseach said today that the government will give  a”very comprehensive” statement on Thursday, one which will bring clarity.

The dates given for April have been honored, he said, adding: “So far, so good.”

The main aim is to allow a gradual reopening, one which means businesses can stay open, said Micheál Martin.

“We want it to be for the long haul this time,” he said.

Martin again noted the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the hospitality and tourism sectors, stating it has been “very, very severe”. 

Government supports will continue, he said. “There will be no cliff edge to those supports,” he told reporters.

Speaking later in the Oireachtas Committee on Finance and Public Expenditure, the Taoiseach denied that any special Cabinet meeting was on the cards to discuss the phasing out of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). 

“No decision has been made to cut anything at the end of June,” he said.

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There is a “very clear” message from international experts advising countries to be “very careful that we don’t cut off support too early”, he added.

This would create a very negative impact on the economy, said Martin. 

However, he added that as more of the economy reopens, more people will return to work, so there should be fall off in the numbers of the supports. He said supports for different sectors may need to be “re-tailored” as we emerge from Covid-19.

He said he didn’t want the impression to be that there are massive cuts on the way. He said the hope is by 2022 we will be “well out of” the pandemic and that some normality will have resumed by then.

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