Leo Varadkar says decision not yet made on 5 July reopening as "dark cloud on the horizon" over Delta variant
“Fourth is concern around variants and that is the dark cloud on the horizon at the moment.”
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that the decision on reopening indoor dining on 5 July hasn't been made yet amid a "dark cloud on the horizon" due to concerns surrounding the Delta Covid-19 variant.
Speaking at an Enterprise Ireland results announcement on Wednesday morning, Varadkar said: “As things stand, the plan is still to ease restrictions on the fifth of July.
“But as is always the case, that final call, that decision won’t be made until a few days before."
Varadkar added that the Government will be taking four factors into account when making their final decision, case numbers, hospitalisation, the vaccine rollout programme, and growing concern surrounding variants.
“We’ll take into account four factors. One is the number of cases, which is falling, that’s encouraging. Another is the hospitals, hospital numbers are going down, which is encouraging," he said.
"Third is the vaccine programme, which is going very well, but we’d like to see those second doses given to people earlier, those people given the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“And fourth is concern around variants and that is the dark cloud on the horizon at the moment.”
Varadkar also said that extra AstraZeneca vaccines could be used on young people to slow the spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant.
He added that while he would like to see the vaccines used on younger cohorts, it could not happen for “a couple of weeks”.
It will also be dependant on recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).
Varadkar added that there could be "hundreds of thousands" of spare AstraZeneca vaccines after all over 60's, vulnerable groups, and health care workers, have received a second dose of the vaccine.
When asked by reporters if the extra vaccines could be given to over-18's to help curb the spread of the Delta variant, he said that it would be a "shame not to use them".