Taoiseach: People will need to reduce social contacts across 'all levels'

Taoiseach: People will need to reduce social contacts across 'all levels'

Taoiseach Micheal Martin.

People will have to reduce social contacts at all levels during the Government's medium-term plan for living with Covid-19, the Taoiseach said.

Micheál Martin again said his main aim was to keep schools and colleges open and this would take precedence over the reopening of pubs or staging sporting events.

He confirmed that Ireland should not attempt to bring about herd immunity to coronavirus and expressed concern about Saturday's Dublin demonstration against the restrictions.

He told RTÉ's The Week in Politics: "If you look at the plan, the key ingredient across all levels will be the reduction of social contacts, even in the home, because that is where prevalence of the disease is most dangerous."

Ireland's Covid-19 blueprint for the longer-term response to the infection will be launched on Tuesday and the Cabinet will meet to sign off the measures.

Mr Martin said the Government would act decisively and it had learned from localised restrictions in the midlands.

Meanwhile, publicans have warned any further delay to reopening pubs which do not serve food later this month will completely destroy trust in the Government.

They are due to welcome customers again on September 21 after six months shuttered.

Public health body NPHET which advises the Government has called for the continued closure of non-food pubs in Dublin amid increased infection levels in the capital.

A decision on the issue is expected to be made by ministers during their Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Donall O'Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), said: "It would fly in the face of the commitments made by Government last week, shatter the value of that Cabinet announcement and would raise the question as to what basis the Government is making its decisions."

He warned it would also have the immediate impact of driving many businesses into immediate mortgage default.

"The mixed messages coming from NPHET and the Government is really adding to the uncertainty facing the publicans, their staff, suppliers and all the families involved.

"They feel like the ground keeps shifting around them.

"This is not the way a crisis should be managed."

He said the non food pubs had played no role in the increased infection levels in Dublin, having been shut by order of the Government for more than six months.

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