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Coveney: The last thing we want is severe Christmas restrictions

The National Public Health Emergency Team is due to meet again next Thursday
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.29 17 Nov 2021


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Coveney: The last thing we wan...

Coveney: The last thing we want is severe Christmas restrictions

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.29 17 Nov 2021


Share this article


The last thing the Government wants is another lockdown before Christmas, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney says.

He was speaking ahead of a midnight curfew on the hospitality sector on Thursday, and a re-instatement of work from home advice on Friday.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is due to meet again next Thursday to consider if further restrictions are needed.

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Minister Coveney hopes the measures announced on Tuesday will be enough to reduce rates of virus.

"This is about trying to avoid more severe restrictions on people.

"It's about effectively re-calibrating our response and recognising that large numbers of people in nightclubs and late-night bars is a risk factor that we think it's responsible to remove for now.

"We know the consequences of that in terms of the sector.

"But it is the job of Government not to make popular decisions, but to make decisions on the basis of the public health advice that we have to protect people and society more generally - and that's what we did, so I think it's the right decision."

However Mr Coveney says nothing can be taken off the table in terms of further measures.

"We can't rule out further restriction, and we will simply have to follow the behaviour of this virus in the weeks ahead to see whether we've done enough to protect society through winter or whether we need to do more.

"But certainly the last thing the Government wants is another severe series of restrictions in the build up to Christmas".

Asked about what the situation could be like closer to Christmas, Mr Coveney says nothing is certain.

"You can't provide guarantees on anything when it comes to COVID - that's surely one thing we've all learnt over the last 18 months or so.

"We have made adjustments this week, we hope that'll be enough - but it may not be.

"But we will respond on the basis of the evidence and the public health advice that we have, in terms of whether we need to make further decisions on restrictions this side of Christmas".

Speaking on Tuesday, Taoiseach Miche√°l Martin also said he could not rule out further restrictions in the coming weeks.

He said: "I'll be very honest about that - future measures cannot be ruled out - but we'll observe and monitor the situation over the coming weeks.

"We're not ruling out any further measures, we'll keep it under review. And I think the key point, however, the overall objective is to reduce socialisation across the board.

"The workplace decision - to work from home - will help that in terms of people's mobility.

"That will be impactful, as will the other measures also in terms of the household contacts".

Additional reporting: Stephen Murphy

Main image: Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney at a press conference at Dublin Castle in July 2020. Picture by: Julien Behal Photography 

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