Taoiseach says further Covid restrictions cannot be ruled out

ireland
Taoiseach Says Further Covid Restrictions Cannot Be Ruled Out Taoiseach Says Further Covid Restrictions Cannot Be Ruled Out
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said further Covid restrictions cannot be ruled out after he announced a number of new measures to curb the spread of the virus.
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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said further Covid restrictions cannot be ruled out after he announced a number of new measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Speaking to the nation on Tuesday, the Taoiseach announced that the closing time for all on-licensed hospitality businesses will be midnight.

“The increased socialisation that we now enjoy comes with a cost, and that cost is an increased risk of infection,” Mr Martin said.

From Friday, people are also advised to work from home where possible.

Covid passes

The Taoiseach also confirmed that Covid-19 passes will be required for cinemas and theatres.

When asked if he could guarantee further restrictions would be avoided the Taoiseach said: "Nobody can guarantee anything in relation to Covid-19."

He also pointed out that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has also "put in the caveat also that further measures cannot be ruled out".

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Mr Martin said: "It remains to be seen as to whether these measures will be sufficient to hold back the tide of the infection on hospitalisation.

"We could reduce socialisation by closing a lot more. But we don't want to close a lot more yet."

Senior Government figures told The Irish Times that they fear further restrictions will be necessary in the next few weeks as cases in hospitals continue to rise.

Revised modelling shown to the Government suggests that the peak of the current wave will not arrive for about another four weeks, meaning that hospitals will face additional pressure in the next few weeks.

Booster vaccines

Senior Government figures believe the booster vaccine programme needs to be accelerated, although this will not affect the problems facing hospitals at the moment.

Opposition parties have criticised the pace of the vaccine rollout.

The Sinn Féin leader has accused the Government of failing to prepare the health service for a long, difficult winter.

During leaders’ questions in the Dáil on Tuesday, Mary Lou McDonald told Taoiseach Micheál Martin that Ireland is facing “the most serious health emergency of a lifetime”.

“The need to build capacity in our hospitals has never been more urgent,” she told Mr Martin.

On Monday, the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive published the Government’s Winter Plan, which set out the steps being taken to protect and sustain the health service through the coming months.

Hospital beds

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It promises €77 million to support the health service in the coming months, as well as an extra 143 beds by the end of the year.

The Sinn Féin leader attacked the Government for waiting until the middle of November to publish the plan.

“Your Winter Plan doesn’t go far enough. It is built on the failures of the recent Budget,” she said.

She said that there remains a lack of beds and a lack of staff in the health service. - Additional reporting from Press Association 

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