Leo Varadkar felt "very bad" for missing Irish reopening dates last year 1 month ago

Leo Varadkar felt "very bad" for missing Irish reopening dates last year

He also said he would be "very surprised" if the UK met their current reopening targets.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he felt "very bad" for setting dates for reopening Ireland from Covid-19 restrictions in the first wave that the country was not able to meet.

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The Tánaiste appeared on Ireland AM on Thursday morning, where he was questioned about the Government not giving specific dates for when various sectors will reopen after the third wave.

He told the show that while decisions will be made regarding the reopening of society a week before 5 April, he said the Covid-19 situation is "still very volatile" and that he didn't want to give people dates the Government "can't stand over".

Asked about the UK's more in depth reopening plan, he replied: "I would be very surprised if they're able to meet those dates quite frankly.

"One thing we don't want to do is to give people a date that we then can't stand over.

"The situation is still very volatile."

He explained: "I remember the first wave and I was Taoiseach at the time and we did set dates.

"When we opened up after the first wave, we did give dates and we were able to stick to the first three but we couldn't do the fourth one.

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"We never got to the gatherings of 200, we never got to the pubs reopening.

"I felt very bad at the time that we were kind of giving people - publicans, people who wanted to organise outdoor events - this hope that we couldn't deliver on.

"This time we want to be a little more cautious."

The Tánaiste said four questions will be considered when planning to reopen the country, which were:

  • Is the vaccine rollout on schedule?
  • Are there any variants we need to be particularly concerned about?
  • Are the number of cases everyday still falling?
  • Is the pressure being relieved on hospitals?
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He said: "If the answer is yes to those questions, then we will be able to do some reopening on 5 April. It will be limited."

The Tánaiste explained that on 5 April, the construction sector could potentially return to work, the 5km travel limit could be relaxed and more outdoor activities may be allowed.

He also told the show that children returning to school and more people being vaccinated each day were "reasons for hope".

According to Varadkar, by the weekend, Ireland will have given its 500,000th vaccine.

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