Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.39 19 Nov 2020


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Heated discussions and passionate arguments are taking place between the Government and public health officials about how to exit Level 5 restrictions, according to the leader of the Green Party.

The National Public Health Emergency Team is meeting today to discuss the spread of the virus.

The Taoiseach said a decision on lifting Level 5 will be made next week, with Micheál Martin telling a meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party last night that a Dáil debate will take place on Tuesday, with a final decision due later in the week.

Meanwhile, an infectious disease expert believes Ireland is likely to enter Level Three restrictions when lockdown is lifted at the end of the month.

Professor Sam McConkey said this morning that he expects to see a “gradual easing of restrictions, probably down to Level Three” in December.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Eamon Ryan said he would like to see people returning to their workplace one a day a week.

He said: "We have a critical decision to make in Government next week, and we will make it listening to our health advisors but also taking into account other factors.

"What do I think we should do about getting the balance right in the next week and number of weeks?

"Firstly, in assessing health you do have to take into account mental health.

"I think we need to start bringing younger people in particular back into the workplace on a safe, gradual, controlled basis, maybe one day a week.

"[For] the first year students in our third-level institutions, the ones who have suffered most by not being able to do their Leaving Cert and now no opportunity to meet their colleagues, I believe our colleges have the ability to bring in a safe and controlled way to bring them all in for tutorials."

The Minister for the Environment added that tutorials over a two-hour period could be held safely with ventilation in rooms and limited numbers.

He also feels shops, gyms and churches could reopen for people’s mental health.

He said: "What we need to do as we return now is to promote the controlled environments, that includes the reopening of retail.

"I would also argue the likes of a gallery or a gym or a golf course or a church, there are so many aspects in our daily life that are really important to our mental health and wellbeing, which are safe.

"We haven't seen huge incidences when the churches opened again after the first lockdown."

'Heated discussions' between Government and health officials on exiting Level 5 restrictions

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

'Spats'

Minister Ryan added that the Government and public health officials should not get into a dispute over the lifting of Level 5 restrictions.

He said: "We shouldn't necessarily get into a spat over this.

"In the end, we make collective decisions.

"There's heated discussions, there's passionate arguments on this because it is complex.

"What they're talking about is not inconsequential, the potential rise in waves.

"My view is that as long as we're doing this in a controlled way, we can control this pandemic."

Christmas travel

The Minister added that there won't be a "blanket restriction" on people flying home for Christmas.

It comes as Dublin Airport opens its first coronavirus testing centre today which will help passengers aiming to travel across Europe under the new ‘Traffic Light’ system for international travel.

He said: "I don't believe there will be or should be the normal volumes of people coming, but at the same time, there are so many different circumstances.

"I think we will have to use our judgement, we'll have to wait and see the numbers in the coming weeks in advance of Christmas.

"But it will not be the normal Christmas with hundreds of thousands of people travelling all over the world."

Minister Ryan said that "by and large" Ireland has done well with regard to handling international travel into Ireland, with 1.4% of all cases coming from travel.

He added: "We are still doing well as a country...we have actually managed this as a country and a people well."

Main image: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Photo: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

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Christmas Christmas Travel Coronavirus Covid-19 Eamon Ryan Exiting Level 5 Government Green Party Leader Level 5 NPHET Public Health

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