Vaccine delays won't prevent easing of restrictions next month, says Leo Varadkar
Any easing of restrictions, Varadkar warned, will be "very modest".
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that he believes the delay in Covid-19 vaccine deliveries won't prevent Ireland from easing restrictions on 5 April.
The news comes as Ireland faces increasing criticism for its vaccine rollout, with vaccination targets set earlier this year unlikely to be met.
Two weeks ago, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that Ireland would administer 1.25 million jabs by the end of March, but since then the HSE has revealed that goal will be missed by hundreds of thousands.
Speaking on RTE's News at One on Wednesday, Varadkar admitted these delays were "very frustrating" but were out of the government's control.
He said: "We try to level with people by giving them the most up to date information but the downside of that is that the information does change.
"We still think about 1.1 [million] doses will have arrived in the country by 31 March.
"But some of them may arrive on the 31 March so it's going to take three or four days before they actually get into people's arms."
However, he also said these delays would not affect the "very modest easing" of restrictions on the cards for 5 April.
The Tánaiste said: "We said that the only kind of restrictions that we could see being eased in April would be construction, the 5km rule and allowing more activities outdoors.
"That remains the case, even if the number of vaccines is slightly behind schedule.
"I think that the delay in the vaccine deliveries won't prevent us from easing restrictions on 5 April but we only ever intended to do some very modest easing anyway."
Varadkar said the country is "making good progress" suppressing Covid-19, citing ICU figures falling below 100.
He also said he anticipates the Johnson and Johnson single jab vaccine being approved by the European Medicines Agency on Thursday.