The Taoiseach has ruled out the possibility of a big-bang easing of Covid-19 restrictions, similar to England’s “freedom day”.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Wednesday that Ireland has one of the highest rates of vaccine uptake in the world, adding that the country could be “weeks away” from lifting further restrictions on society.
However, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has clarified there will be a gradual easing of restrictions, that may be accelerated with the help of the vaccination programme.
It didn’t end in one day… it will peter out
“All this talk about freedom day, to me, if you look at the last pandemic 100 years ago, it didn’t end in one day… it will peter out,” he told Newstalk radio.
Later, Mr Martin told reporters that Ireland will continue to take a “steady as she goes” approach to easing any restrictions over the coming weeks.
“I think it’s steady as she goes, more or less what we said we’d do, we’ve done,” he said.
“The consistent message from me has been we don’t want to go backwards, we don’t want any derailment along the journey of reopening. That is important in terms of giving certainty and clarity to the different sectors.”
The Taoiseach said the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid will meet through August and keep the situation under review.
It comes as an immunologist has said that Ireland is getting “very close” to the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Public health experts have said there will be “peaks and troughs” of Covid-19 cases over the next few months, but they do not expect to track “huge waves” due to the Irish public’s caution.
A further 1,408 cases of the disease were confirmed yesterday, with nine deaths confirmed over the last week. There are 152 patients in hospital with Covid-19, with 26 in intensive care.