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Simon says Coveney plays down row over Government Nphet contacts

The Foreign Affairs Minister said there was a ‘difference in perspective’.

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Covid-19 testing facilities in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Covid-19 testing facilities in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Covid-19 testing facilities in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Simon Coveney has played down the row about what the Government was told by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) over the possibility of moving to stricter Covid-19 restrictions.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said there was a “difference in perspective” following Nphet’s unscheduled Sunday meeting.

Nphet advised the Government to move the country to Level 5 to help curb the spread of the virus, saying it was the “only opportunity” to get Covid under control.

The more we talk about what happened last Sunday, the more we are distracted away from what we really need to be focusing on

Following a strained 24 hours, the Government decided to move the country to Level 3 restrictions from midnight on Tuesday for three weeks.

Mr Coveney said he found out about the recommendation at 9pm on Sunday and subsequently spoke to Tanaiste Leo Varadkar.

“There was a difference in perspective emanating from last weekend, where the chief medical officer and Nphet felt they needed to make the recommendation, the Government didn’t agree with that approach and was surprised by it,” he told RTE Morning Ireland.

“The version of events that the Tanaiste has outlined, and outlined again in the Dail yesterday, is certainly my experience of what happened.

“The more we talk about what happened last Sunday, the more we are distracted away from what we really need to be focusing on.

“It’s been made very clear this last number of days, the Government and Nphet are working together to try and protect people across the country.

“We need to focus on working together rather than try to probe at divisions.

“We have moved on from that and focusing on what we should be doing which is working together.”

On Thursday Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he discussed the possibility of moving to stricter Covid-19 restrictions before the Nphet meeting.

He told the Dail he spoke to Dr Tony Holohan on Sunday morning about the possibility of moving to Level 4 restrictions.

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