Micheál Martin not anticipating any 'relaxation of restrictions' in February

This morning, Micheál Martin said party leaders wanted to "give expectations for respective parliamentary parties and to the public in general".
Micheál Martin not anticipating any 'relaxation of restrictions' in February

Mr Martin said he understood how difficult the restrictions had been on people, and that it was an "unnatural state for humans". Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

The Taoiseach has publicly confirmed the Government does not expect a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions in February while also insisting that every vaccine that enters the country is being administered.

The Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parliamentary party meetings last night heard that the community transmission is too high to exit the current Level 5 restrictions.

This morning, Micheál Martin said party leaders wanted to "give expectations for respective parliamentary parties and to the public in general".

"When the cabinet Sub-committee on Covid meets on Monday, we'll get advice from Nphet and from other sources in terms of where are we now, a phase which is very challenging and very difficult, and assessing the new variants as well and its impact in terms of community transmission. The numbers are still too high," he said.

We need to get the numbers down. We're not anticipating any relaxation of restrictions. If we learned anything, this virus behaves and evolves and changes so I think we can't make predictions that far out.

"In terms of the impact of viruses, into the month of February we don't see any relaxation of restrictions in those key sectors, because we have to get the numbers down."

Vaccine rollout

On vaccines, Mr Martin told Ireland AM every vaccine that is coming in, is going out, and the issue is supply.

To highlight that he pointed out that the country has received 152,000 vaccines and by Sunday 146,000 will have been administered. 

The Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parliamentary party meetings last night heard that the community transmission is too high to exit the current Level 5 restrictions. Picture: Julien Behal

The Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parliamentary party meetings last night heard that the community transmission is too high to exit the current Level 5 restrictions. Picture: Julien Behal

"So there's nothing in the tank. Vaccines that are coming in, are going out," he said.

"Next Sunday, we aim to have every resident and worker in long term care facilities vaccinated, and, well over 1,000 frontline health care workers," he said. "Those are the two key priorities.

"After that, then we move to the over 70s, because the vaccines have been proven at the moment, to reduce mortality and reduce serious illness, and that's why we're focusing in accordance with clinical advice on older people, and those on the frontline.

If you take the first 80,000 vaccines, we delivered up to 70,000 worth to frontline health care workers, and the protocol is very clear. It says patient-facing frontline workers should be the priority."

He said there have been "non-nurses, non-doctors" vaccinated including people working in and out of theatres.

"We have receptionists and some of those roles were also vaccinated. Fundamentally, we don't have enough vaccines yet to do everybody.

"We estimated there are 150,000 frontline healthcare workers. We're well over half of those vaccinated by next Sunday and we will have the vast majority of residents in nursing homes, vaccinated except for those who may be in an outbreak situation

"Towards the end of quarter one, and right into quarter two then the numbers will begin to go up, by the last part of the year we will have plenty of vaccines coming in, the issue then will be the administration of them."

Mr Martin said he understood how difficult the restrictions had been on people, and that it was an "unnatural state for humans". He added he had not been with some of his family for a year and that his wife Mary finds the restrictions difficult.

"The mental health and well being of the public is incredibly important right now and the suffering, that worries me," he said.

"The mental well-being issue, that's a concern I have, I worried that it could be a longer term consequence of this pandemic, and we have to pay particular attention to resourcing non-governmental organisations in the mental health area so that they're there to help people."

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