Reopening of schools not a signal to return to workplace, warns Dr Glynn

People are now free to travel within their home county or a 20km radius of their address and meet one other household in an outdoor public place.
Reopening of schools not a signal to return to workplace, warns Dr Glynn

People are now free to travel within their home county or a 20km radius of their address and meet one other household in an outdoor public place.

Ireland's top public health doctor has urged people not to take the return to school "as a signal to return to the workplace".

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there are "many reasons for hope" with the lowest daily number of new Covid-19 infections since before Christmas yesterday.

The latest data shows 303 people have tested positive, and two more patients with the virus are confirmed to have died.

People are now free to travel within their home county or a 20km radius of their address and meet one other household in an outdoor public place.

The Taoiseach welcomed the easing of restrictions this morning saying it is great to see schools reopen fully.

Looking ahead, Micheál Martin said that outdoor activities such as golf, tennis and underage training would return soon.

"We are making good progress in the fight against Covid-19," Mr Martin wrote on Twitter.

Infectious diseases specialist Professor Sam McConkey of the Royal College of Surgeons said keeping up social distancing is now incredibly important as restrictions are eased today.

"Even though you can travel further it is really just for exercise and hopefully that will still be only people from one other household outdoors," said Prof McConkey.

"You can travel to meet one other family outdoors for a walk but I hope that won't lead to people going mad and doing a lot of things that bring them very intimately close with others."

Parents and students are being urged to play it safe as in-person teaching resumes for children and teenagers today.

Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan says the government is confident schools are a safe environment.

Parents and students are being urged to play it safe as in-person teaching resumes for children and teenagers today.
Parents and students are being urged to play it safe as in-person teaching resumes for children and teenagers today.

But she says if it was up to her, school staff would still be an early priority for a vaccine.

"It's always been my view that teachers and SNAs as essential workers should be vaccinated as soon as possible," said Ms Madigan.

"I understand their disappointment and I want to thank them for all they have done this year under difficult circumstances.

"It's important to say the Department wasn't consulted at all when NIAC (National Immunisation Advisory Committee) were drawing up these recommendations. But the change is endorsed by public health."

Construction work on all home building is also set to resume today.

The Unite union which represents construction workers has asked Nphet for guidance on the best testing regime for building sites.

Non-essential construction works have been closed since January 8 and will start re-opening on a phased basis.

Construction Industry Federation (CIF) Director General, Tom Parlon is relieved workers are returning but says thousands more are not.

"It's going to be a massive relief to people who moved out of their homes at Christmas-time and haven't been able to get builders back in to do renovations or extensions," said Mr Parlon.

"I'd say there will be 15-20,000 workers will be back today but unfortunately there are still another 20,000 left outside which is quite bizarre in this situation."

CIF believe only up to 12,000 homes will be built this year due to the sector's shutdown - much lower than the 20,000 target.

Mr Parlon said the Government should not have allowed home building to stall.

"It is bizarre in a housing crisis that our Government would choose to close down house building and allow the building of data centres and so on."

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