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Taoiseach: 'In hindsight, would we have done what we did a month ago? Obviously not'

“Nobody predicted, in any model, the level of community transmission that we’re currently experiencing,” he told Virgin Media News.

Image: Virgin Media News/Twitter

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that, in hindsight, his Government wouldn’t have eased Covid-19 restrictions as much as they did in December.

It comes after numerous senior government figures denied that they didn’t follow the National Public Health Emergency Team’s advice at the beginning of December.

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly have said that they didn’t go against public health advice not to both open pubs and restaurants, and allow household mixing in the run up to Christmas.

Martin told Virgin Media News during a 20-minute interview: “In hindsight, knowing what we know now, would we have done what we did a month ago? Obviously not.” 

“Nobody predicted, in any model, the level of community transmission that we’re currently experiencing. But at the time we were coming out of a six-week Level 5 series of restrictions. That was preceded by a Level 3 max series of restrictions.

“Ireland has been [under] a lot of restrictions right throughout this pandemic,” he said, adding that “all people at the time, if you remember, wanted to move out of Level 5 and on to Level 3″.

When asked about NPHET’s letter in December advising on what restrictions would be needed in the weeks before Christmas and over the festive season, Martin said:

“We decided to be more restrictive on households mixing… We didn’t open up hospitality in its entirety and got strongly criticised [for it].”

When asked if he has regrets, he said “of course”. 

When asked if they would ignore NPHET’s advice again, Martin said “I’ve been one of the strongest adherence to public health since the start of the pandemic”

He said that the Government advised against household visits, and when corrected to say that they were allowed from 18 December, Martin said that household visits were only allowed for a “very very” short period.

Ireland is among a number of countries struggling with a surge in Covid19 cases and experiencing limited capacity in its hospitals as a result.

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Level 5 restrictions were introduced on a phased basis in December and January until at least the end of January.

The Taoiseach also said that that he does not see any St Patrick’s Day parades going ahead this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also said that there was no guarantee that schools would return to in-person learning at the end of January, and that “as of now” the Government is aiming to hold the ”traditional” written Leaving Cert examinations.

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