Varadkar supports reducing isolation period for close contacts

The Tánaiste says he is keen to ease restrictions "as soon as we can"
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.02 11 Jan 2022

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Varadkar supports reducing iso...

Varadkar supports reducing isolation period for close contacts

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.02 11 Jan 2022

Share this article

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says he supports reducing the time period some close contacts are required to isolate.

Updated advice is expected from the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan for Cabinet to consider on Wednesday.

The guidance will include a reduced isolation period for asymptomatic close contacts.


Mr Varadkar told Lunchtime Live: "We're expecting advice from the CMO today and Government will consider that tomorrow morning at Cabinet.

"We anticipate that it will involve easing some of the rules around close contacts - I don't know the details of that yet, I haven't seen the letter, haven't seen the advice - but that is what's anticipated.

"And I support that, and I've been calling for that for some time".

While Mr Varadkar says he cannot give a timeframe for the 8.00pm hospitality curfew to be lifted.

He was speaking as there is increased criticism of the current earlier closing time for bars, restaurants and other sectors.

While it has emerged that some NPHET members did not agree with the earlier closing times for hospitality and indoor events.

Mr Varadkar says the timing depends on hospital capacity.

"I think it's only safe to start easing those restrictions - and I am keen to ease them as soon as we can, by the way.

"I don't like them anymore than anyone else.

"But I don't think we can really do that until we know that we're over the peak - and the number of people in hospital in particular, because that's what matters, starts falling".

Asked by host Andrea Gilligan if he wants to see restrictions and the curfew eased by January 31st, he says: "I would of course, but I can't promise at the moment that that's going to be possible."

But he says the Government stands behind affected businesses, and that subsidy schemes will "remain in place as long as restrictions are in place".

'Summer of freedom'

He says he wants to see this summer as a 'summer of freedom'.

"I would like to see us, across the spring and summer, at least keeping up with our European peers when it comes to the easing of restrictions.

"Last summer we had among probably the strictest restrictions in Europe... I don't want this summer to be the same.

"I don't want summer 2023 in Ireland to be the summer in which we've the worst restrictions in Europe, or the toughest restrictions in Europe.

"I want 2023 to be a summer of freedom in Ireland, if that's possible.

"And certainly as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, responsible for business and jobs, as leader of a party that believes in individual liberty I'll be pushing for a more rapid re-opening across the spring and summer - but only if it's safe to do so".

But he believes there is cause for optimism "in the medium term".

"It is now clear that Omicron is less severe than previous strains of the virus - it's inherently less severe, but also we've built up a lot of immunity between vaccination and natural immunity from people getting infected.

"While case levels are extremely high, we're not seeing that translate into the levels of morbidity and mortality that we would have seen in previous waves.

"That does give me cause for optimism - that we can get through this wave quicker than we did previous waves, but it's not yet time to drop our guard.

"This is still unfolding and probably has not yet peaked".

And he says while the country's COVID strategy has been broadly successful, "I do think we have paid a price for that."

"As far as I know we're the only country in the world where, for two years, it hasn't been possible to stand in a bar, or to go to your office for two days if you wanted to, and - for the exception of about three weeks - we haven't been able to enjoy nightlife.

"And that has been very strict and it has been very hard on people".

Varadkar supports reducing isolation period for close contacts

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Main image: Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is seen at a Government press conference on COVID supports in December 2021. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov /

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COVID Strategy Closing Time Curfew Hospitality Curfew Hospitality Sector Leo Vardkar NPHET Tanaiste Tanaiste Leo Varadkar

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