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Outdoor dining Taoiseach says 'whatever we open, we keep open' as pressure mounts to ease restrictions

'For the summer outdoor has to be the theme. The impact of the vaccines is transformative'

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo by Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo by Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo by Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Michéal Martin has said not all restrictions will be eased this summer as he confirmed he will be registering for the AstraZeneca vaccine next week. 

Mr Martin said the Government is “getting it in the neck” about not easing particular restrictions, and although he admits it’s been a “very long lockdown” that’s been “very tough on people”, the public will still be restricted during the summer.

The Government is under mounting pressure to re-open outdoor dining and beer gardens as groups of people congregated outdoors yesterday while temperatures soared.

Videos spread on social media of hundreds drinking and dancing in a crowd on Salthill beach in Galway.

When asked on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics if licensed premises should be allowed to reopen outdoors due to these incidences, the Taoiseach said the Government is determined to only open sectors if they can keep them open.

"We’ve had these arguments at every stage of the pandemic now and I will revert back to that point about whatever we open, we keep open,” he said.

"For the summer outdoor has to be the theme. The impact of the vaccines is transformative.”

Chef JP McMahon said the Government needs to “rapidly accelerate” when it comes to reopening hospitality.

“There can’t be two rules. There can’t be Supermacs around the corner with three or four tables outside that were in full flow last night with people sitting there eating takeaways,” he said.

“So, I think the Government needs to rapidly accelerate, I’m not asking for indoor dining but I think that when there’s nowhere to go and the weather's going to be good, of course they can expect hundreds of people to gather on the beach.”

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Screenshot of a video of crowds gathered Salthill, Galway yesterday.

Screenshot of a video of crowds gathered Salthill, Galway yesterday.

Screenshot of a video of crowds gathered Salthill, Galway yesterday.

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The Taoiseach, who is 60, confirmed today he will be registering to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine next week.

Currently, the vaccine is restricted to over 60s in Ireland due to the rare side-effect of blood clots in younger people.

"I will be [registering for the vaccine] early next week, for the AstraZeneca,” he said.

" I look forward to doing that and getting that vaccine whenever that date arrives. The evidence is strong in relation to AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson as the benefits outweigh the risks and in my view hopefully, next week will be important.”

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is due to make a decision on whether the Johnson and Johnson vaccine should have limitations similar to AstraZeneca, as a number of blood clots linked to the vaccine have been reported in the United States.

When asked why there has been a delay in NIAC coming to a decision as it will not be announced until next week, Mr Martin said that the delay is beneficial.

"It’s interesting that the US made its judgment in terms of the FDA in respect of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and the EMA has made a very informed assessment of AstraZeneca,” he said.

“NIAC can now benefit from that informed decision from the US and the EMA prior to making its decision and its reading and assessing all of that data and engaging with the Chief Medical Officer.”

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