Return to offices "less likely" amid Covid concerns, says Paschal Donohoe 3 days ago

Return to offices "less likely" amid Covid concerns, says Paschal Donohoe

A decision on the lifting of restrictions will be made on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said a full return to offices for employees is a "little less likely" at the moment amid Covid-19 concerns.

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As it stands, a number of restrictions are set to be lifted on Friday, 22 October yet in the past few days, a number of Government heads have cast doubt on the planned reopening due to a recent rise in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned on Wednesday that the major easing of restrictions planned for next week can't be guaranteed as the "pandemic has not gone away".

Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said it is "possible" that some of the restrictions due to be lifted may not be on 22 October.

"There's nobody in government... [who] wants to move away from the plan to remove the vast majority of remaining restrictions on the 22nd," he said on Newstalk Breakfast.

"But we do have a responsibility to listen to the experts, to look at the science and if there's a significant spike that is sustained we can't ignore that."

While attendance at work for specific business requirements was permitted to commence on a phased and staggered basis from 20 September, Donohoe has now said that a full return to offices at the moment is "a little less likely".

However, he told The Pat Kenny Show that the government would make a final decision on the matter on Tuesday.

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"We do know that when we go through big changes in mobility and activity within our society, it affects where we are with the disease," Donohoe said.

"The most recent triggers of that are the return to school, the return to college and we're going to really look at that carefully next week".

Donohoe said that while Ireland has made "gigantic process" this year reducing the virus' spread, Covid-19 has now stabilised at a higher level than had been hoped, meaning "there are some signs of concern".

"What I want to avoid is being in a situation that the progress that we've made, with re-opening the economy, that we have to reverse our current level of progress," he added.

"So NPHET are going to be meeting early next week, they'll advise the government, and we'll make a decision on the matter on Tuesday."

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Main image via Julien Behal Photography / RollingNews.ie