Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.43 19 Jul 2021


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Ireland's vaccine programme could not be going any better at the moment, according to European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne.

He was speaking as international travel resumes to and from Ireland, and ahead of the re-opening of indoor hospitality.

While Ireland has seen its five-day moving average of COVID-19 cases grow by 89% in the past week.

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But Minister Byrne told Newstalk Breakfast the Government is taking the right approach.

"I don't think there's a recklessness about the Government position at all.

"In fact I think the criticism the Government was getting, particularly about indoor dining, was caution.

"I think that caution has been well-advised by NPHET, just to be really really careful about it.

"What Government is trying to do is just re-open as best we can, with the priority to get the vaccines rolled out as quickly as we can.

"And quite frankly, we're now going at world-beating pace at the moment in our vaccination programme."

Minister Byrne says we would not be able to do "anything that we're talking about without the world-class vaccination programme that we have at the moment".

From today, people aged 18 to 24 can opt in for an AstraZeneca vaccine by registering on the HSE's online portal.

While nearly 80% of the adult population has received a first vaccine dose.

People 'very understanding' about restrictions

As international travel resumes, Minister Byrne says Ireland is not alone with keeping other restrictions.

"The truth is there are restrictions in all European member states to a different degree, but there are restrictions everywhere.

"And restrictions... can change all the time, and that's a reality that we face - so I think people are very understanding about restrictions, people are understanding that the situation can change.

"And that Government's in some senses certainly don't have full control of the future, and they have to react as public health and necessity advises them at the time".

He says ahead of indoor dining re-opening, ongoing caution is needed.

"These things change all the time - what I'm confident about is that the vaccine programme could not be going any better at the moment.

"And that the vaccination does seem to break the link between serious illness and death, and that's obviously hugely important.

"But as the Taoiseach said yesterday, we'll be keeping an eye on hospital capacity and on the rate of deaths as well as this goes forward".

Ireland 'going at world-beating pace' in vaccines - Byrne

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Main image: Thomas Byrne (centre) speaking on the plinth at Leinster House in 2018. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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Five-day Moving Average Indoor Hospitality International Travel Registration Thomas Byrne Vaccine Programme Vaccines

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