Government made 'right call' in allowing household visits over Christmas, says Sinn Féin

Mary Lou McDonald said that the decision to lift travel and household visit restrictions from December 18 would give "a great measure of relief right across the country"
Government made 'right call' in allowing household visits over Christmas, says Sinn Féin

Christmas lights on Grafton Street Dublin. Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

The Government has made "absolutely the right call" in allowing household visits over Christmas, the Sinn Féin leader has said.

Mary Lou McDonald said that the decision to lift travel and household visit restrictions from December 18 would give "a great measure of relief right across the country".

Ms McDonald said that it was "essential" that people be allowed to see family at Christmas, but added that there would be disappointment for owners and staff of wet pubs.

"I know there will be disappointment to particularly in that in that part of the hospitality sector for people who haven't been at work since last March, and that's been really, really hard, really tough for them and they're facing into continuing tough times so I know the Government has announced further supports, I look forward to hearing the detail of those. 

Ms McDonald said that the only way to "avoid the nightmare scenario of yo-yoing in and out of very heavy restrictions" was to improve Ireland's testing and tracing capabilities.

She added that she "can only assume" that the Government "have listened very carefully to NPHET and that they have explored all of the data and all of the scenarios in considerable detail with them". 

"The government had to I think strike a balance and I think that's what they've sought to do."

Labour's Alan Kelly said that a clear strategy was needed from Government, along with a detailed strategy on the rollout of vaccines.

“What I most want to see now is that the Government learn from their previous mistakes and ensure our testing and tracing system is ready to tackle future spikes. 

"We also must ensure that further progress is made on expanding our intensive care capacity. The tracing system must also be able to cope with any increase in cases before and after Christmas. 

“There can be no excuse if our contact tracing system becomes overwhelmed again."

Independent TD Denis Naughten, meanwhile, called for the Government to release the data upon which this week's decisions have been made.

“This information is not only vital so people understand how these decisions were made but, more importantly, to see how this virus can be controlled in communities and homes so we don’t have to face into any further lockdowns in 2021,” stated Denis Naughten.

“This data must also be used to reform the current five level restriction model, which is clearly not fit for purpose as we are now again looking at a level 3 plus. This is proof enough that these levels need to be completely revised with the aid of this information”.

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