Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.50 23 May 2020


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The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there is no change to the social distancing restrictions for COVID-19.

It is understood 'robust' discussions were held at Cabinet on Friday about changing the advice from two metres to one to help the hospitality sector.

Current World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines state keeping a one metre distance from each other is sufficient.

The WHO says: "Maintain at least one metre (three feet) distance between yourself and others."

However guidance from the Health Service Executive (HSE) say a space of two metres (6.5 feet) should be kept between people.

But on Saturday Mr Varadkar confirmed that there is no change to the advice to maintain a physical distance of two metres.

He said public health advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) stands.

Earlier, GP Nina Byrnes said any easing of restrictions must be based in science.

She told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh: "We're not even a week into the first easing of restrictions - and remember that the virus has a two week incubation period.

"So we really need to give it a bit more time, at least the second week, to see where we are.

"Certainly if the distance can be reduced to one metre based on science - and I think that's really important - that that decision is based on science, not based on popularity.

"All this is about keeping people safe.

"If we can scientifically prove that if we are doing all the other things - we're washing our hands, we're doing the cough etiquette, we're wearing masks in shops and stuff like that - if we can safely have a one metre distance in certain places even then obviously that would be welcome.

"I recognise that would have a huge impact for schools and for restaurants and for other businesses.

"But it does have to be grounded in science, it has to be done in keeping us safe.

"I feel sorry for [CMO] Tony Holohan and the team because sometimes the decisions they make are not popular, and they are put daily under pressure to say 'when are we going to do this, when are we going to do that'.

"I think we have to remember that they are as affected by these decisions as we are.

"Their lives are impacted, their families are impacted, and I'm sure they want them lifted as much as anyone else.

"But they are making those decisions because the science tell us it's the right thing to do to keep us safe".


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Cabinet Coronavirus Covid-19 Hse Ireland Ministers Newstalk Breakfast Nina Byrnes Social Distancing Social Distancing Guidelines WHO

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