'Open up now' | 

Ciara Kelly reacts to news Leo Varadkar 'wants to end Covid restrictions' on March 31st

Speaking on her breakfast programme, Ciara Kelly called for all restrictions to end immediately

Newstalk's Ciara Kelly

Clodagh Meaney

Newstalk presenter Ciara Kelly has reacted after Leo Varadkar has revealed that he wants to end all Covid restrictions on March 31st.

Yesterday, the Tánaiste told a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party that the low level of hospital admissions, ICU admissions and deaths has given “a strong degree of confidence that we can ease restrictions quickly over the next few weeks”.

Speaking on her breakfast programme, Ciara Kelly called for all restrictions to end immediately.

“So let's not talk about the 31st of March. What we have now is a window of opportunity now. We know that Omicron is the circulating variant.”

“We know that it is not particularly severe or serious. We know that even at half a million cases per week, it did not overwhelm our health service or ICUs.”

“There is no justification for any restrictions,” she added.

“I don’t want to hear the noises they’ve been making over the last few days, we’ll get to it over the next little while and it’ll be quicker than before?”

“All restrictions on Friday, after they speak to NPHET, all restrictions should be gone and I don't want to hear ‘oh we’ll let you out till 10 or maybe midnight if you're good.’ Get out of our faces.”

“It’s none of your business what time people go.”

“The public health risk is utterly diminished and disproportionate now,” she continued.

“To have these measures at all and this is a window because we don’t know how long we have and we need to have a policy in this country of opening up and when we can and closing when we have to and we need to get our heads around that inching towards the 31st of March when it’ll all be over, no one can guarantee that.”

“Open up now.”

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

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.

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

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are expected to meet today to analyse Covid-19 case numbers, hospital admissions, infections and other key indicators to decide on a timescale for the gradual lifting of restrictions.

They are also set to recommend if and when the 8pm curfew on hospitality and live entertainment will be lifted.

Yesterday 11,683 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed.

The Department of Health also announced that there were a further 5,767 PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19, while 5,916 people registered a positive antigen test through the new HSE portal on Monday. As of 8am on Tuesday, there were 979 patients with Covid-19 in hospital, of which 93 were in ICU.

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