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summer wishes Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says he is hoping for 'indoor pints in July'

"We are all determined to make it happen"

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said he hopes indoor pints will be possible in July, but he cannot confirm they will be.

Following the recent Government announcement that outdoor hospitality will be allowed from June 7, the Minister said it’s still not clear when it will be safe to open indoor facilities.

“We can’t say yet, and we have no guidance from Nphet on that yet but if the vaccine programme continues at the pace that it is now in terms of getting all the vaccines out, we begin to hit this herd immunity level around late June/July,” he told RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Claire Byrne.

“My view on this is what’s been announced for May will happen, what’s been announced for June we all hope will happen.

"We are all determined to make it happen. And if we all as a nation continue to not go beyond the public health advice, then for June, it should happen.”

The minister was asked further about why certain sectors have been closed for so long despite the rate of catching the virus in these areas being relatively low.

“You can’t take any individual measure and say: ‘but sure this one would have been okay’, right,” he said.

“People playing golf said it. People playing tennis said it. People who wanted to go hill walking said it. It gets said about every sector. You can take any individual action and say: ‘Surely this one action wouldn’t make much of a difference?’ And for the majority, it wouldn’t make a big difference.

“But it’s the collective effect of all of these things. So what did we do? We prioritised healthcare, we prioritised education.

"And so we were able to open up all of the schools. We're one of the only countries in Europe where it’s all in-class education now for all primary and secondary schools.”

When asked if the last lockdown was too severe, Mr Donnelly said that no, he doesn’t think it was.

“It has been incredibly difficult, but if you look at how we compare to the rest of Europe for example, we compare very well in terms of fatality rates,” he said.

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“We went from having one of the highest rates in January to one of the consistently lowest rates. What does that mean? It means a lot of lives have been saved. It means we were able to return to full education, which other European countries haven’t been able to do.

“And it means we’re able to have this conversation this morning about opening up.”

Also speaking on air this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that while it has been a difficult time for many sectors - particularly the hospitality sector - supports are in place and new ones are also being brought forward.

“We’re saying prepare for these reopening,” Micheál Martin said. “And as you know, [Tourism Minister] Catherine Martin has announced grants to facilitate infrastructure for those establishments to give them assistance, to provide infrastructure to facilitate outdoor dining and outdoor drinking in pubs in June.”

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