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lifting lockdown No major easing of restrictions until May, Varadkar warns TDs

In an email to his parliamentary party, Mr Varadkar said there is “no reason” to be “off message” after receiving a backlash over government communications.

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told his party there will be no major easing of restrictions until May and warned them to stay on message when publicly discussing Covid-19 rules.

In an email to his parliamentary party, Mr Varadkar said there is “no reason” to be “off message” after receiving a backlash over government communications.

The Tánaiste also outlined seven key steps the Government are taking over the coming months as part of their Covid-19 plan.

However, he insisted there will be no major lifting of restrictions until May, apart from easing rules around the 5km travel ban, construction, outdoor activities and click and collect services.

The Fine Gael leader said he took on board the “reasoned criticisms about communications” and said it is now time to for a “reset in how we communicate with the public”.

“It’s very clear about what (will) and will not happen in the next 10 weeks,” he said in reference to the Covid-19 Plan ‘The Path Ahead’.

“Communications is a job for all of us and with this plan there is no reason for any of us to be ‘off message’ for the next few months.”

He set out seven key communications points he wants his TDs and senators to take on board when speaking publicly.

He said March is about reopening schools, pre-schools and childcare which he said will involve “quite a lot of additional movement and interaction”.

“Nphet has advised and we agreed that any further relaxation of restrictions at the same time would be too risky and could jeopardise the safe reopening of education,” he said.

He said the vaccine programme will be ramped up in March and there will be roughly 100,000 vaccines administered a week. He said this will increase to 200,000 to 300,000 a week in April. He said there will also be a greater focus on ventilation and rapid antigen tests along with more testing, tracing and isolating.

He said in the run up to Easter, the Government will consider easing some restrictions if the current trajectory of the virus continues to fall and there is less pressure on hospitals.

He said the only measures that will be considered are the relaxation of the 5km rule, the reopening of construction, the return of click and collect services and permitting more outdoor activities.

“No further easing of restrictions will be considered until the end of April or early May,” he added.

Mr Varadkar said there will be “tougher controls” on people entering and leaving the State and pointed to the ban on non-essential travel. He said there is a requirement for all passengers arriving in Ireland to produce a negative PCR test on arrival.

He said mandatory home or hotel quarantine of five to 10 days or more depending on country of origin will also be in place shortly.

He also said all financial supports introduced for businesses and employees will remain in place until June 30.


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