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Taoiseach: Pandemic will 'peter out over time' rather than on one 'freedom day'

The Taoiseach says the COVID-19 pandemic will "peter out over time", and restrictions won't end a...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.09 29 Jul 2021


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Taoiseach: Pandemic will 'peter out over time' rather than on one 'freedom day'


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.09 29 Jul 2021


Share this article


The Taoiseach says the COVID-19 pandemic will "peter out over time", and restrictions won't end all at once on a UK-style 'freedom day'.

Micheál Martin also says it's "unacceptable at this stage" that there are still restrictions on partner visits at some maternity hospitals.

He was speaking after Dr Tony Holohan yesterday said the current progress in Ireland with COVID-19 means a further easing of restrictions is possible in the coming weeks.

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On Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Martin said restrictions have already been eased "quite substantially" - but caution is still needed.

Taoiseach: Pandemic will 'peter out over time' rather than on one 'freedom day'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

He said: "I think it’s important we take stock coming out of the Christmas period and that terrible Alpha wave.

“There are a whole range of indoor activities we've got to look at in the coming period, and also live entertainment… which has always been a very severe casualty of COVID-19.

“Hospitality has been particularly vulnerable… tourism and travel. It’s going to take a long haul to get travel back to where it was pre-pandemic."

The Taoiseach said NPHET members were optimistic yesterday, but noted they were not so hopeful just two or three weeks ago.

He said the Government is "very determined" to get third-level students back on campus in September, while there'll also be "increased numbers" allowed at GAA fixtures ahead of the upcoming semi-finals.

He said restrictions around indoor sports also need to be looked at for September and beyond.

The UK last week had its so-called 'Freedom Day' when the vast majority of remaining restrictions were eased.

Mr Martin said: “All this talk about Freedom Day… if you look at the last pandemic 100 years ago, it didn’t end one day. It will peter out in time, or we will adapt to live with it.

“I still wear a mask in certain locations, and I’m not bothered about it. I genuinely think we need to proceed in a careful way."

He said it's good news that the number of cases in England and Scotland have come down, but it's also vital Ireland avoids any 'superspreader' events.

He said the next questions are around what happens with the virus this winter, but said we're heading into autumn in a "much stronger position" than before.

Maternity restrictions

One of the major controversies in recent weeks has been continuing restrictions around partner visits at some of the country's maternity hospitals.

HSE guidelines have been issued nationwide, telling hospitals to allow for access during some appointments, labour and C sections.

However, couples have said the guidelines are not being followed in many cases.

The Taoiseach says it's "unacceptable" there are still restrictions on partner visits.

He said HSE has "made it clear” to the hospitals that there shouldn’t be restrictions.

He said: “There are inconsistencies in terms of the individual local clinical autonomy being applied - the HSE has been trying to cut through them.

“[Restrictions are] not fair to the women concerned or indeed their partners.”


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Covid-19 Micheál Martin Pandemic Restrictions Taoiseach

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