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Taoiseach says Ireland's reopening has been 'slowest in Europe, wisely so'

Micheál Martin was speaking as 1,200 cases of Covid-19 are expected to be confirmed today.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that Ireland has been “the slowest in Europe” in reopening society and that this has been a “wise” approach. 

Martin was speaking amid rising cases of Covid-19 in the country, with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly saying there will be about 1,200 new cases confirmed today.

Donnelly was speaking as the Seanad debated legislation that would reopen indoor hospitality for the first time this year but for fully vaccinated or Covid-recovered persons only. 

The legislation has passed the Dáil and the government is hoping it can complete its passage through the Seanad today and be signed into law next week. 

The government’s plan is that the new rules would be in place for the following weekend.

Present today at the opening of 32 new homes in Sandyford in Dublin, the Taoiseach was asked about whether it was wise to ease Covid-19 restrictions as cases of Covid-19 rise steadily. 

“We must keep everything in perspective, the broad messaging from public health we’ve adhered to,” he said. 

That’s not going to be the make or break issue here, the issue is a very highly transmissible variant. We’ve been slowest in Europe in terms of reopening society, I think wisely. We’ve been cautious.

Martin said that reopening has been a gradual process that has included “very careful guidelines” along each stage. 

The Taoiseach added that, as the country continues to deal with the pandemic ,”it is important that everybody is careful”. 

“Personal behaviour matters, social distancing, mask-wearing in crowded places, outdoors as much as possible. We want to protect the progress we have made in relation to the reopening society,” he said. 

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“The Delta variant is here, there will be an increase in case numbers, we’re watching very carefully the impact on hospitalisations and on ICUs. I’m in regular contact with public health authorities and ultimately we will say to people, it’s important to get your vaccines, they do offer us protection individually but they also help protect your loved ones, families and wider society.”

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Rónán Duffy

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