Digital Desk Staff
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Government will next week outline plans to phase out pandemic welfare supports from October onwards.
As The Irish Times reports, at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday evening, Mr Varadkar said that no dramatic changes should be expected in the third quarter as the country will still be in reopening mode.
He added that the supports must be phased out and that the Government would next week signal for the fourth quarter what the phase-out would look like.
Mr Varadkar also said the Government is aiming to put the country into Level 2 Covid-19 restrictions, similar to what was in place last summer.
Sources said Mr Varadkar said the current situation in relation to Covid-19 is where the Government expected it to be at this stage.
He said that the vaccine portal would open to people between 40 and 45 “in the coming days”. There will be an option for this group to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, he said.
The Fine Gael leader said he did not know where the Government would “land” in terms of easing restrictions on Friday as he has not yet seen the advice from the State’s public health team.
He said that the Government will next Tuesday reveal its plan for the extension of pandemic supports such as the wage subsidy scheme and the pandemic unemployment payment.
Not out of the woods
It will involve an extension of the various welfare schemes and business supports as Mr Varadkar said there will not be a “cliff edge” cutting of those supports.
He said, however, that while there will no “dramatic changes” in the third quarter, the Government would have to outline plans to phase out pandemic supports from the fourth quarter onwards.
Mr Varadkar also said the Government would not forgive itself if a fourth wave of Covid-19 was unleashed.
He said Ireland was “not out of the woods yet” and the country would need to get through at least another winter before the picture becomes clear.
He warned that the threat of a fourth wave remained. Mr Varadkar said an increase in socilalisation and a new variant caused the third wave. “That is not impossible again…we could find ourselves in a difficult position again,” he is understood to have said as he called for caution.
Mr Varadkar also shot down comments made earlier on Wednesday by Fianna Fail TD Paul McAuliffe who suggested that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) should be decommissioned. He said Nphet had served the country well.