Harris on Covid-19 restrictions: 'We’re going to have to keep at it'

Health Minister Simon Harris has made clear restrictions will not be lifted yet and will be extended until further notice.
Harris on Covid-19 restrictions: 'We’re going to have to keep at it'

- with reporting from Daniel McConnell

Health Minister Simon Harris has made clear restrictions will not be lifted yet and will be extended until further notice.

Speaking with PJ and Jim on Classic Hits, Mr Harris said: “To be blunt and honest with people, the restrictions that are in place are not going to be lifted tomorrow, we’re going to have to keep at it.

"What we’re hoping to be able to do is show people what the journey looks like....if we keep at this for another couple of weeks, where does it bring us, what does success look like?".

He also said: "The virus is probably going to be here for a long time, but we need to get to a point where your mum can see the grandkids again even if the virus still is in Ireland."

The Minister went on to say that we can save thousands more lives than our doctors can and that if we get things wrong this weekend, we could go back to a very dark place.

Two weeks ago in a live televised broadcast by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, he said only essential travel for food or medicine was allowed, as well as outdoor exercise within 2km of your home.

Those restrictions were due to run out on Monday.

As the country looks ahead to a warm and dry Easter bank holiday weekend, public health officials and the Gardaí have reiterated that people should not travel to their holiday homes, or other tourist spots, despite growing fatigue with the regulations.

The Gardaí, who were given new powers on Wednesday, under Operation Fanacht, to restrict people’s movements and gatherings, can fine or detain those who disobey their orders to return home.

Officers are set to be dispersed to beauty spots across the country in order to maintain social distancing guidelines and turn away those who should not have travelled, and will be boarding trains to ensure members of the public adhere to the new restrictions.

Public transport is still available for essential use, in order for essential workers to travel to and from work, and essential shopping where the use of public transport is required.

Many local councillors and residents groups in holiday hotspots like Lahinch and Kilkee in Co Clare and Dunmore in Waterford have taken to posting fliers as well as pleas on social media for tourists to stay away for the sake of public safety.

Liz Canavan, assistant secretary in the Department of the Taoiseach, said gardai will be working in tandem with their colleagues in the PSNI, with whom points of contact have been established, to monitor cross-border travel and to ensure that restrictions in the jurisdiction are adhered to, ensuring that unnecessary cross border travel does not increase.

Key locations of concern have been identified and the guards "will follow their usual approach to engage, educate, encourage and enforce as a last resort," she said.

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