Simon Harris defends two-metre rule, says phases could be "sped up"
The two-metre social distancing rule has been under question.
Simon Harris has defended Ireland's two-metre social distancing rule amidst speculation that Ireland could soon reduce the restriction to one metre.
Speaking on RTÉ Prime Time on Tuesday night (26 May), the Minister for Health said the government was not divided on the issue, but that "politicians have a duty to represent their constituents."
"That distance, keeping apart, is saving lives. Now, to be really clear on this, we keep this under constant review, the NPHET keeps it under constant review." Harris further acknowledged that as the country continues to reopen, there will be some circumstances in which the rule cannot be adhered to.
"Social distancing has been key to saving lives in this country" Health Minister Simon Harris on the two meter social distancing measures and the difficulties many businesses are facing as they begin to consider reopening#RTEPT | #COVID19 | @MiriamOCal | @SimonHarrisTD pic.twitter.com/Ocj8kuvqSV
— RTÉ Prime Time (@RTE_PrimeTime) May 26, 2020
Challenges to the two-metre rule have come about as critics have noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that people remain at least one metre apart. Several countries have implemented a restriction of one-metre social distancing, including Norway, Finland, Austria and Sweden.
Harris addressed this by saying: "We heard on RTÉ this week, from the World Health Organisation, David Nabarro. He said that one-metre will keep you safe in 70% of cases but two-metres will keep you safe in 99% of cases.
Asked by Miriam O'Callaghan whether the phases of the government's recovery strategy (of which we are in Phase One) could be implemented more quickly, Harris said: "Yes, is the short answer, but it's entirely contingent on public health advice."