Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told people to enjoy themselves this weekend as nightclubs reopened, but urged them to remain cautious.
On Friday night the nightclub sector is set to reopen after close to 600 days shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Varadkar said while he has no plans to attend one himself this weekend, he urged those that do to enjoy themselves, and remain safe.
He said: “I know a lot of people have been working very hard for the last couple of weeks and are going to enjoy the time off over the bank holiday weekend.
“I’d say to people, whatever you’re doing, absolutely enjoy yourself, but do stay safe.
“The most important thing really is that if you are having symptoms, that you don’t go out and about, that you stay at home, you get a test and even if the test is negative, if you have symptoms, don’t be out and about.
“If you don’t have symptoms, consider an antigen test.
“And please be sure to wear a mask if you’re in a crowded scenario or if you’re in any of those indoor places where we advise it."
Culture Minister Catherine Martin has confirmed that nightclubs will be able to return with 100 per cent capacity.
Live entertainment venues will be permitted to have 1,500 people standing, under the updated guidelines.
Customers will be able to queue, in a socially distanced manner, at the bar.
Asked if he would attend a nightclub now that they have reopened, Mr Varadkar replied: “Not this weekend.
“But I’m not in the business of criticising or condemning anyone who decides to go out, it’s allowed.”
The reopening comes against a backdrop of rising case numbers, hospital admissions, ICU admissions and deaths.
But Mr Varadkar said the time has come for Ireland to “live with the virus”.
He said: “I think everyone in Government is going to be a little bit worried about what we face into for the next couple of weeks.
“I think people working in the health service are as well.
“As you know, I’ve a lot of friends and family who work in the health service, so I’m concerned for them and the pressures that they’re going to face and that patients are going to face as well, over the next couple of weeks.
“But there does come a point where we have to try to live with this virus, and that point is now because we’re so well vaccinated as a population.”
Great to be back in #Limerick to officially open new facility for @Edwardslifesci. Will employ 250 more people than initially estimated, bringing total jobs to 850. Enormous vote of confidence in #MidWest & talent, skills & experience on offer. Congratulations to team involved pic.twitter.com/JpckPpxmVE
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) October 22, 2021
Mr Varadkar said the Government hoped to get through the winter without reimposing restrictions, and said Ireland could “overcome” the new Delta wave.
“We see that now in Germany and Belgium and the Netherlands, where there is an increase in Covid cases linked to the fact that people are mixing more, linked to the fact that we’re heading into winter and people are indoors more,” he said.
“But we also see in places like Israel and the United States that Delta waves can be overcome and our objective is to get through this second peak of Delta here in Ireland without having to impose restrictions.”
Mr Varadkar was speaking from Castletroy in Limerick, at the opening of a new facility by Edwards Lifesciences, a company that manufactures medical devices.
The new plant is to create 850 jobs in the area.