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Government will 'prioritise' schools staying open in new roadmap, Taoiseach says

Micheál Martin also said he anticipates endorsing guidance from the CMO about Dublin-specific measures.

File image of Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
File image of Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Image: Sasko Lazarov

THE NEW ROADMAP for ‘Living with Covid’ due to be announced by the government on Tuesday will “prioritise” schools and colleges staying open, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Martin said the government will “absolutely” prioritise schools remaining open over other issues like pubs, plane travel and sports.

The plan will include a colour-coded, five-level system to indicate what public health measures are in place in different areas of the country at any given time. 

“The life chances of a child depend crucially on education and learning, and as a society I think we get that,” he said. 

“That’s why we must do everything we possibly can, notwithstanding the pandemic, to keep our children at school safely and also our young people learning in our universities and our institutes of technology.”

The Taoiseach added that a “key element” of the new plan will be the reduction of social contacts, especially in the home.  

Martin said the government will be “acting decisively” with Tuesday’s announcement and elaborated on previous comments about further restrictions in Dublin.

He said yesterday that the government would have no hesitation in implementing Dublin-specific measures to deal with Covid-19. 

“We can anticipate in terms of an endorsement of the guidance of the CMO [Chief Medical Officer] in that respect,” Martin said today when asked if Dublin can anticipate further restrictions. 

Yesterday, CMO Dr Ronan Glynn directly appealed to the people of Dublin to limit their contacts as much as possible over the coming weeks. 

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There is an average of 104 cases being reported in Dublin, and in the past fortnight, there have been 1,055 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Dublin, giving a 14-day incidence rate of 78 cases per 100,000 of the population. 

Glynn said the disease is growing at a rate of 4% per day in Dublin, and that the R0 is at 1.4. If nothing changes, the number of cases in Dublin will double in the next fortnight, he said.

Martin said the government will consult with Glynn prior to Tuesday’s announcement.  

“We have to learn also from what we’ve done in the past,” Martin said.

The severe restrictions brought into Kildare, Laois and Offaly did work and there was a lot of opposition and it was very difficult.

The Taoiseach added that there are “different challenges in Dublin”, but the government can learn from what worked in the localised lockdowns in terms of suppressing cases of the virus. 

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