Government could introduce ‘green cards’ to access services post-vaccine

ireland
Government Could Introduce ‘Green Cards’ To Access Services Post-Vaccine
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, © PA Media
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By Cate McCurry, PA

The Government could introduce so-called “green cards” that allow people who have been vaccinated to access services including gyms and cinemas.

The system is currently being used in Israel, where citizens who are inoculated against Covid-19 have been provided with a green pass.

The pass allows people to access gyms, restaurants, hotels and concerts.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government will examine the system and whether it has been successfully implemented in other countries.

“It’s something that we could consider, but I think we can only consider it when we’re confident that it’s worked in Israel,” Mr Varadkar told Newstalk FM.

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“It’s too soon for that in Ireland — we still only have a relatively small proportion of the population vaccinated and, bear in mind, even though you’re vaccinated you can still carry the virus in your nose and can still pass it on to other people.

“You’d want to have a critical mass of the population vaccinated before we even considered those kind of measures.

“By the time we get to that point, which would be some time in June when about half the population will have at least one dose at that stage, we will know whether the experience in Israel has worked out or not.

“The IT system that we have does allow us to produce a vaccine certificate, both in hard copy and digital.”

Mr Varadkar also defended the Government’s slow approach to the easing of restrictions.

 

The phased reopening of schools and childcare will see some pupils return to the classroom on Monday.

Junior and senior infants, as well as first and second class in primary schools, will be among the first back.

Leaving Certificate students will also return to the classroom on Monday.

The Government has yet to set a date for the reopening of the economy and society.

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Mr Varadkar said: “We know from the experience after Christmas how quickly this virus can make a comeback if we lower our guard, and we can’t afford to do that.

“March has to be all about getting the schools open, it’s so important that we achieve that.

“Kids need their education, they need to see their friends and they need to be able to develop.

“That’s why schools and childcare going back in March is the only thing that we’re allowing to happen that is any way different to the past couple of weeks.

“But for that to happen successfully, for us to avoid a significant spike in cases, we need to double down on restrictions.”

Mr Varadkar said the coronavirus case numbers are dropping.

On Saturday, Ireland’s positivity rate was below four per cent for the first time since the middle of December.

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The Government’s mandatory quarantine hotel legislation is going to the Seanad this week before it is approved by President Michael D Higgins.

The Health Bill will introduce mandatory quarantine at a Government-designated facility for people arriving from countries where Covid-19 has been flagged as high risk.

Mandatory quarantine will also apply to people arriving into Ireland without a negative PCR test.

The Bill has been criticised by opposition parties who say it does not go far enough.

Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly said that all arrivals into Ireland should face mandatory quarantine.

“People feel let down by the Government, who is not enforcing mandatory quarantine of all arrivals into the State,” she told RTE’s The Week In Politics.

“The Government needs to meet the people half way. People are doing their  best and are exhausted from this lockdown.

“What we saw last week from the Government was confusion, mixed messaging and that does not help.”

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Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Denis Naughten said: “No-one knows where the new mutation is going to come from, it could come from Northern Ireland or France.

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“We have to treat every person coming into this country as posing a risk in terms of bringing a new mutation into the country.

“We have to take the exact same approach in terms of people that test positive here in Ireland.

“We have the capability to have a far more aggressive approach in managing Covid outbreaks and we really need to restructure and reformulate our test-and-trace system.”

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