Simon Coveney: 'Very narrow' scope for easing Covid restrictions but hopeful construction will reopen

Simon Coveney: 'Very narrow' scope for easing Covid restrictions but hopeful construction will reopen

Ahead of a Cabinet meeting next week to discuss the current lockdown measures, Mr Coveney told RTÉ Radio One that ministers would be taking a "cautious" approach.

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said Government has only "very narrow" scope to ease coronavirus restrictions.

Ahead of a Cabinet meeting next week to discuss the current lockdown measures, Mr Coveney told RTÉ Radio One that ministers would be taking a "cautious" approach.

"What we are trying to ensure is that we don't allow a fourth wave of Covid spread to happen between now and when the majority of adults in the country will be will be vaccinated," he said.

"We know that by certainly mid-July the vast majority of people who want to be vaccinated will be. So, I think there'll be a lot of caution in government to try to make sure that we don't allow what happened, in particular in January, to happen again between now and the successful rollout of vaccines.

"I think the approach the Government takes tomorrow will be cautious."

Mr Coveney said he understood people would be "frustrated" at the Government's stance.

"They want to get out and about, and they want to get their businesses back up and running," he said.

"What we don't want to do is to allow restrictions to be eased and then to have to reimpose them again."

Simon Coveney said the Government did hope to make some relaxations, particularly in regard to the 5km limit on travel and in respect of restrictions on outdoor activities.

"I don't think it's any secret that Nphet (National Public Health Emergency Team), and indeed the Government, recognise that people do need some room to breathe here in the context of the impact that these restrictions have had for so many months now," he told RTÉ.

"I would expect, but I can't be sure, that we will be looking at the 5km restriction, that we will be looking at outdoor activity, that we will certainly want to facilitate completing the full return to school for all children after the 5th of April."

Mr Coveney said he also hoped for some relaxations to allow more construction activity.

"If it can be done safely, the Government would really like to do that because every week that we aren't building houses we are building up a real pressure point and a problem in terms of housing demand," he said.

"The first priority here has got to be public health and avoiding another wave of this virus.

"Don't forget in the last week to 10 days we've seen numbers actually increase, albeit not dramatically, but certainly the kind of progress that we've been hoping to make in terms of seeing numbers fall day after day has not been happening over the last 10 days.

"So we would certainly like to see some level of construction activity increase after Easter, but again we will be guided by the public health advice on that."

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