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'hopeful signs' Taoiseach Micheal Martin says he will 'intervene' if Covid infection rate surges again

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said data would be monitored as the country starts to reopen from May 10.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Ireland is in “a good space” to reopen social life and the economy over the next two months, but the Taoiseach has warned that the Government will intervene if the virus gets out of control.

Micheal Martin said health chiefs will monitor data as the country begins to reopen from May 10.

While he is hopeful the country will see May through, the Government has in the past been forced to delay reopenings because of rising infection numbers.

The Government is relying heavily on the success of the vaccine programme, which Mr Martin said is having a transformative impact on the cohorts that have been vaccinated to date.

The plan to reopen the economy throughout May and June was confirmed on Thursday.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar warned on Thursday night that the plans have an “emergency brake” if worrying trends around the virus begin to emerge.

Mr Martin said the data will be monitored over the coming weeks and months.

“The steps are necessary because the overriding consideration will always be the protection of public health and life,” Mr Martin told RTE Morning Ireland.

“In that context Ireland has done well, relatively speaking, so far in this pandemic compared to others.

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“The overwhelming of the hospital and healthcare system, all over the world, is always a key metric.

“We have taken the pressure off the health service.

“The vaccination programme, that is the other key factor here, which is having a transformative impact on the cohorts that have been vaccinated so far, so the evidence is good in terms of reducing severe illness, reducing mortality and indeed transmission amongst those who have been vaccinated.”

Among the announcements included the reopening of intercounty travel, personal services including hairdressers and the resumption of click-and-collect retail services from May 10.

From that date, the number of people permitted to attend religious services including weddings and funerals will be capped at 50 people.

Museums, galleries and libraries will reopen and team sports for up to 15 people will also resume.

Three households will also be able to meet outdoors in private gardens, while a vaccinated household can meet with an unvaccinated household indoors.

Another key date in the calendar is May 17, when non-essential retail will begin to reopen.

Hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, self-catering and hostels will reopen from June 2.

Outdoor dining is set to reopen on June 7, along with the reopening of gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres.

Sports matches will also be permitted from that date, but no spectators will be allowed to attend.

The number of guests attending a wedding celebration/reception will be increased to 25.

Visiting indoors in private homes will be allowed for visitors from one other household.

Mr Martin said the reopening will be done in two phases.

I think we're in a good space, we will not be afraid to intervene, if there are worrying trends in thisMicheal Martin

“The first phase, the month of May, which is graduated and which will bring key sectors back into play, and people back to work and businesses back into operation,” he added.

“In the past, we’d have intervened, we’ve delayed reopenings but I would be more than hopeful that we can see May through.

“We will assess towards the end of May, in terms of June and beyond June.

“I think we’re in a good space, we will not be afraid to intervene, if there are worrying trends in this.”

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Micheal Martin (centre) at a press conference (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Micheal Martin (centre) at a press conference (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Micheal Martin (centre) at a press conference (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

The Taoiseach said that the government anticipates 4.5 million doses of vaccines to arrive by the end of June.

That is sufficient to vaccinate 80% of the population with a first dose, according to Mr Martin.

“But there are complications around the volumes of AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) that can be administered with an existing advice from NIAC (National Immunisation Advisory Committee).

“We’re very dependent on the supplies, so it is going to be very challenging.”

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