POSITIVE | 

Micheal Martin is ‘hopeful our plan will see country through Omicron wave’

Micheal Martin said the restrictions will be kept under review, but refused to say whether they could be removed if the wave of infections is not as severe as predicted by health officials.
Micheál Martin

Micheál Martin

Cate McCurry

The Taoiseach said he is “hopeful” that the current restrictions, combined with booster jabs, will be enough to see the country through the Omicron wave.

Micheal Martin said the restrictions will be kept under review, but refused to say whether they could be removed if the wave of infections is not as severe as predicted by health officials.

Mr Martin said the restrictions will remain in place until the end of January, but would be kept under “constant review”.

Since Monday, all restaurants, bars and cafes have had to shut their doors at 8pm.

Indoor events have a limited attendance to 50pc of capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is lower.

Outdoor events are also limited to half capacity, to a maximum of 5,000 people.

The restrictions were announced on Friday as part of the Government’s plan to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

Mr Martin said that any further advice on restrictions would come from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

“I would be in daily contact with the Minister for Health (Stephen Donnelly) but also very regular contact with the chief medical officer Tony Holohan, with (HSE chief executive) Paul Reid in the HSE just to make sure we get constant updates in terms of where the vaccination is going, can we do more on the vaccination,” he added.

“Then in terms of hospital numbers, ICU, contingency planning in terms of capacity within hospitals across the country, in terms of scenarios that might not happen at all, but just to be ready. So that’s ongoing.

“But I would see something similar to what occurred last week – we would have engagement, talking through issues before we have formal meetings, and those engagements would be between the key principals.”

The Fianna Fail leader said he expects “many twists and turns”, as this variant moves “very, very fast”.

“On the other hand people do need some degree of settled horizon, and that’s why we were anxious to make it clear that given we made decisions only last Friday, that we give them time to work out and observe their impact, ” Mr Martin added.

“So there are no plans for meetings this week, or for any change to the situation this week.”

Asked whether there could be further changes in restrictions next week, he said: “I think I said last week that a week is a long time in Covid. We’ll have to see.

“The key data we’re waiting on is the impact of omicron and its severity – how severe is Omicron?

“Some studies are emerging – we’re watching South Africa but it may not be demographically applicable to here, seasonality-wise.

“The United Kingdom is clearly one that we have to watch in terms of similarities, in terms of research that’s going on there, so that will inform how we approach this. We’ll look at numbers and so forth.

“But we’re very hopeful, well, hopeful that the combination of measures we’ve taken so far and the rollout of the booster campaign will enable us to get through this.

“But as I’ve said consistently, nobody can rule anything out.”


Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices