| 11.5°C Dublin

Fresh hope Tánaiste Leo Varadkar hopes all Covid restrictions to be lifted by end of March

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Minister of State Ossian Smyth, told radio stations earlier today that they would also hope to see the use of the Covid pass domestically removed by the end of March.

Close

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party that he hopes all restrictions, including the domestic use of Covid passes for pubs and restaurants, will be lifted by the end of March.

It comes as 11,683 new cases were reported – 5,767 confirmed by PCR tests and a further 5,916 people who registered a positive antigen result through the HSE portal.

There were 979 people with Covid in hospital today, with 93 in ICU.

Cases today are slightly up on 11,139 new cases yesterday, when there were 1,006 in hospital and 97 in ICU, but significantly down on an all time high of more than 26,000 on Saturday week.

Sources said Mr Varadkar pointed to the emergency legislation which puts in place Covid passes and said that it expires by the end of March, indicating that it would be a good target date for the removal of measures.

However, the EU Digital Covid Cert would be still needed for international travel in Europe.

Sources also said that his comments come with caveats and a “health warning”, however, they are in line with other remarks made publicly by Coalition colleagues.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Minister of State Ossian Smyth, told radio stations earlier today that they would also hope to see the use of the Covid pass domestically removed by the end of March.

Mr Varadkar also said there will be future variants and restrictions may be brought in again in the winter when hospitals are under pressure.

He said Ireland is the only country in Europe where people cannot stand at the bar to mingle with others and that this is having an effect both on people and on businesses.

The Tánaiste also said that he wants a situation where the summer can be as normal as possible.

It is understood that Mr Varadkar said that March 31 should be the deadline to end all legal restrictions, but added that nothing can be promised and that there is still the option of extending it for a further three months.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

He said masks may remain needed in certain circumstances, such as in crowded places, staying at home when symptomatic and for international travel.

Mr Varadkar also told TDs and Senators to be prepared for a further vaccine dose if necessary.

He also said that the country must be prepared for a "new severe variant of concern" later in 2022 and that this may mean another round of vaccination.

He also said that the Test and Trace system must be able to be switched on and off as and when needed and that improved air quality in buildings must be invested in and the Government must continue to increase ICU and hospital bed capacity.

Mr Varadkar also told the meeting that a "high level" of immunity has been built up due to vaccination and infection, which has meant that hospitalisations, ICU numbers and deaths have not increased like in previous waves.

Sources said that these factors give a "strong degree of confidence" that restrictions can be eased quickly over the coming weeks.

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


Privacy