Taoiseach hints at earlier lifting of Covid restrictions

Micheál Martin said we will know by the end of the month if the lifting of some restrictions can be brought forward.
Taoiseach hints at earlier lifting of Covid restrictions

By James Ward, PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has suggested that the easing of Covid-19 restrictions could be accelerated if progress is maintained.

This could include a “blended” return of workers to offices in August, rather than September, as suggested by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Mr Martin said we will know by the end of the month if the lifting of restrictions can be brought forward.

“I think we will see towards the end of this month, given the progress we have made to date, whether we can move forward on some areas like that”, he told reporters.

He added: “We’ll take advice on it, we’ll take it step by step.

“As you’ve seen all along the way, we were able to do things in June that we didn’t signal we would do a month earlier.

“We were able to do more than what we signalled. And likewise by the end of this month, we will do more than we signalled by August.

“That could mean the return of some workers to offices by the end of August.”

He said that any return to offices would be “blended”, and would not take place all at once.

Cork businesses

Mr Martin was speaking on a visit to Cork, where he stopped on Princes St to take advantage of newly reopened outdoor dining.

He paid tribute to businesses in the city for their resilience throughout the pandemic.

He said: “I want to pay real tribute to the traders, they’re always energetic, they’re always thinking of new ways to take on the challenges of Covid-19.

“It’s a very quick response to the outdoor dining issue. The people of Cork city have taken to it.

“Cork city council has worked well with the traders and there has been a rapid acceleration of pedestrianisation in the city.”

Street disorder

Mr Martin also said Government was “very concerned” about violent scenes on the streets of Dublin over the weekend.

But he said he believed the situation would “settle down and level out.”

“The vast majority of people did behave. I believe Covid has created new realities for people as well. It’s very difficult for many, many people” he said.

The Taoiseach also paid tribute to An Garda Síochána, who were criticised in some quarters for their response to the disorder in Dublin.

“I think An Garda Síochána have worked extremely hard during Covid-19.

“It hasn’t been easy for the Gardai either, because they’ve been asked to do things that wouldn’t normally be asked to do.

“It’s been a strange period for them too, in terms of the restrictions they’ve had to enforce.”

Tuesday brought an additional 271 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the Department of Health has said.

There are 77 people in hospital with the disease, with 27 in intensive care units.

Daily case numbers may change due to future data review, validation and update, owing to the cyberattack on the HSE.

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