Leo Varadkar: "I'll be pushing for a more rapid reopening across the spring and summer"
Provided it is safe to do so, the Tánaiste said.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he will be "pushing for a more rapid reopening" from Covid-19 restrictions across the spring and summer in Ireland if such a move would be safe.
The Tánaiste appeared on both RTÉ's News at One and Newstalk's Lunchtime Live on Tuesday (11 January), where he was quizzed as to when Ireland's public health measures introduced last month will be eased.
He told RTÉ that he believed there are grounds for "cautious optimism" as it is "fairly clear" now that the Omicron variant of Covid is less severe than previous strains and because the public has built up a significant amount of immunity to the virus.
"While we're seeing record numbers of cases, that's not translating into admissions to hospital, ICU admissions and deaths in the way it did in previous waves and that is very assuring," Varadkar explained, before adding that it was not time yet for people to drop their guard.
"It probably hasn't peaked... We expect it to peak through the course of January and that would then put us in a position to start easing restrictions in February but this is still unfolding and it's too early for that yet."
Varadkar also said that the easing of restrictions, such as for hospitality, would have to be phased but also acknowledged the severe impact the measures have on people.
"We're probably the only country in the world where for two years it hasn't been possible to stand in a bar or go to your office if you want to," he stated.
"Certainly my view is that when it comes to easing the restrictions across the spring and summer, we shouldn't be outliers.
"We should keep pace with the reopening that we see across Europe.
"I wouldn't like this to be the third summer in which Ireland has the strictest rules in Europe. That was justifiable when people weren't vaccinated, when we didn't have vaccines.
"That wouldn't be justifiable in my view this summer.
"We should try and keep pace with European countries but do it safely and do it in a phased way."
Appearing on Newstalk, Varadkar made similar comments, adding: "I'll be pushing for a more rapid reopening across the spring and summer but only if it's safe to do so."
Main image via Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie