Full return to offices “as we knew them” won’t happen this year
"We're not where we hoped to be."
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that a full return to offices "as we knew them" will not be happening until next spring.
The Tánaiste made the comments during a Government press conference on Tuesday after the announcement of the country's revised reopening plan, where the Taoiseach confirmed all of the restrictions set to ease from Friday, 22 October and the restrictions that will remain in place.
"The pandemic isn't over yet. Unfortunately, we're going to have to get through at least another winter before we can safely say that it's behind us," Tánaiste Varadkar said at the press conference.
"The situation... took a turn for the worse about two or three weeks ago and since then, we've seen rising case numbers, rising hospitalisations and rising ICU numbers.
"So, we're not where we hoped to be or expected to be for 22 October... we're not past the peak of the Delta wave."
Later in the press conference, Varadkar said the government would be meeting with unions and employer representatives to update the Work Safely Protocol.
"We'll have that done over the next couple of days and essentially what we're saying is that a staggered and phased return to the office is possible," he explained.
"So, people going back to the office for a specific business purpose, like a meeting or a training, for example, or inductions - that is allowed.
"But certainly people who can work from home and want to continue to work from home, their employer should facilitate that.
"But bear in mind, there are also people who've been working from home with a laptop on a bed for 18 months now and they really want to get back to the office.
"And if that can be facilitated, if they can be in an office on their own or in an office where they're socially distanced from other people, that should be facilitated too.
"But the full return to offices as we knew them, that will be next spring."
The announcement from the Tánaiste comes days after Deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Ronan Glynn advised the public to "work from home where possible" this autumn and winter.
Meanwhile, for more on the fallout of the revised reopening plan, see JOE's coverage here.
Main image via Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie