Covid-19: Micheál Martin 'disappointed' by images from RTÉ retirement bash 

ireland
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Paul Hosford

The Taoiseach says that pictures of RTÉ stars at a retirement party not wearing masks or socially distancing are "disappointing".

RTÉ staff were seen posing for pictures and standing closely next to one another without face masks or coverings at a colleague's retirement party on November 15.

Stars including Miriam O'Callaghan, David McCullagh and Bryan Dobson as well as RTÉ News Managing Director Jon Williams have apologised for their part.

RTÉ said that the "impromptu gathering" should not have happened and has reminded staff of their obligations to follow public health advice.

RTÉ presenters apologise over social distance breaches. David McCullagh and Miriam O'Callaghan pose with their colleague (C) on her final day at work. Source: RTÉ.ie/news

The Taoiseach said that the impression could not be given that people who work for RTÉ could flout the regulations.

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"Those in public life must be leading by example," Mr Martin told Virgin Media News.

Mr Martin said that he could not speculate what would happen if the situation wasn't where NPHET hoped at the end of next week but said the objective was to leave Level 5.

"We do want to exit Level 5 on December 1 and a lot of the work we have done will inform that strategy."

The Taoiseach said that people needed a "safe, meaningful Christmas".

"Christmas is a time for families, for friends, it is a spiritual time. It is a family time, fundamentally and that poses challenges. But it won't be a normal Christmas. We can have a good Christmas if we mind ourselves and mind each other.

The virus loves crowds. I can't see us all packed into the pub the way we would have been in previous years. We really have to mind each other."

The Taoiseach said that he would "like to" see a relaxation of gathering and travel rules to allow people to have a Christmas gathering.

Mr Martin said that the nation was "doing very well" generally in tackling the virus but that "some fatigue" had kicked in, a phenomenon he said was Europe-wide.

"People need to know that their sacrifices have worked.

"I think when people heard about the vaccines and the downward trajectory, people felt that we were out the gap here, so as to speak.

"I hope that between now and December 1, I hope we can just double down."

Mr Martin said that people needed to "make judgement calls" on whether travelling home for Christmas was essential. He said that full guidance would be made at the end of the month.

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