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new era Virus monitoring system, personal changes and better air quality part of government plan to tackle Covid

The Tánaiste revealed the long-term plans in a media address today

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that a virus monitoring system, permanent personal changes and better air quality are all part of the government’s long term plan to tackle Covid-19.

We're going to put in a [monitoring] system to make sure that we can identify new variants quickly, and identify their spread quickly,” the Tánaiste told the media in an address today.

“There will be a big focus on permanent changes to the way we act as individuals, we may all choose to wear masks in certain settings in the future.

“We may all decide that we don’t go to work, or work from home, if we have symptoms in particular.”

“Something else we’re going to have to concentrate over the next couple of months and years is air quality because we know that good air quality will reduce the transmission of all viruses,” he added.

He also said that the government “cannot rule out” another Covid wave while reassuring the public that restrictions will be eased on a phased basis.

Ahead of a cabinet meeting due to take place today to discuss NPHET’s recommendations to scrap many Covid restrictions, he said: “We can’t rule out the possibility of a fifth wave.

“We can't even say if it would be mild or severe, but that's why it's important that we build on the subtle changes that have been made during the course of the last few years.”

Varadkar also said that restrictions will be eased on a phased basis.

“The recommendation from NPHET is a phased basis, but the detail and timing around that basis is for discussion.

“This is a virus that has surprised us on many occasions and this is a virus that likes to rip up our plans, nobody can rule out another wave after Omicron, immunity does wane.

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“There will be new variants of concern and of course the virus may spread more easily during Winter time.”

The Tánaiste also thanked the Irish people for “agreeing to be vaccinated.”

“It’s been a very long two years, it’s certainly not over yet but we’re in a much better place now than we were previously and it’s really down to a world leading vaccine programme.

“I really want to thank the staff of the HSE and their contractors for all the work they did on that. And the Irish people for agreeing to be vaccinated which has made a huge difference and put us in a better position than a lot of other countries that are struggling at the moment.

“I’d also like to thank Irish business owners and workers because some people in some sectors really haven't worked in two years… hopefully the future will be a bit more bright for them.”

In a letter to the cabinet NPHET have reportedly recommended that all restrictions around the hospitality industry can be lifted as soon as possible.

They’ve also said that Covid certificates will no longer be necessary for entry to pubs and restaurants.

Live venues and sports arenas will be able to return to full capacity and even nightclubs can reopen under the advice from Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan’s team.

The only restrictions that will remain in place will be the requirement for masks on public transport and in the retail sector. Students will have to still wear masks in schools.

NPHET has also recommended a phased return to offices which will be decided on by the Government.

The timeline for scraping all other guidelines will be down to the cabinet to decide upon for themselves.

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