TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has said Government will intervene if necessary if the number of positive Covid-19 cases continues to rise over the Christmas period.
Mr Martin was speaking today; the eve of the lifting of some Covid-19 restrictions for the Christmas period including inter-county travel.
However, it could be short-lived, as NPHET is understood to have recommended that restrictions be reimposed earlier than January 6 as planned.
“We’re going to keep a very close eye on this (Covid cases) and will intervene if we have to. Numbers are rising. We anticipated that,” he told.
“We couldn’t keep people locked down forever either because the restrictions for six weeks were very severe. There was always a sense that there would be increased mobility around Christmas time which human nature was going to drive and no government was going to stop if we’re honest.
“There is a limit to the degree which we can force people to abide by or adhere to rules.
“But that said, the public generally do want protection. And the public generally support restrictions. The timing of them is important in terms of catching the public mood in terms of adherence as well,” he added.
He did confirm the move back to a form of level 3 restrictions post-Christmas, and following NPHET's meeting, the timeline is now set to be brought forward. Restrictions could be reimposed before the new year.
Cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss NPHETs recommendations.
Mr Martin toldearlier on Thursday there were no plans for any change in restrictions prior to Christmas “right now” but added that Government would take any advice that comes their way given that it’s “a moving situation”.
The Taoiseach acknowledged that people wanted to go home for Christmas, and said personal behaviour will be key to stop the spread of the virus.
He said people should be mindful of older people and those with underlying health conditions during the festive period as they bore the brunt of the pandemic in terms of mortality.
“We have to do everything we can to protect those in our households and that’s why people have to limit their engagement over Christmas.
“Every contact counts”.
Meanwhile, Mr Martin was forced to restrict his movements for a time on Thursday as the French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the virus. The pair met during a European Council meeting last week.
Mr Martin subsequently tested negative for the virus and is no longer restricting his movements.