Leo Varadkar wants to set March date as deadline to end "almost all" legal Covid restrictions
The Tánaiste said he has a “strong degree of confidence” that measures can be eased quickly over the coming weeks.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he wants to set 31 March as a deadline to end "almost all" legal Covid-19 restrictions, according to reports.
It comes as the Health Protection Surveillance Centre was notified on Tuesday (18 January) of 5,767 confirmed cases of the virus.
In addition, it said that on Monday, 5,916 people registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.
Meanwhile, as of 8am on Tuesday, 979 Covid patients are hospitalised, of which 93 are in intensive care units.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) January 18, 2022
According to the Irish Times, the Tánaiste told the Fine Gael parliamentary party that vaccination and Omicron being less severe than previous Covid strains has meant that hospitalisations and deaths have not increased to the same levels as previous waves of the virus.
Varadkar added this gave him a "strong degree of confidence" that Covid restrictions can be eased quickly over the coming weeks and that he wants to set 31 March as a deadline for the relaxation of "almost all legal restrictions", the paper reports.
However, the Tánaiste is also said to have warned that no promises could be made and that the risk of a severe new Covid variant emerging later in 2022 means that the State should be prepared for another round of vaccination while investing in improved hospital capacity.
On top of this, he is reported as saying that some measures - such as wearing masks in crowded places, people staying home when they have Covid symptoms and Covid passes being needed for international travel - may be kept in place longer than the end of March.
Meanwhile, the National Public Health Emergency Team is set to give government ministers advice regarding the possible easing of restrictions following its meeting on Thursday.
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