Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he is “sceptical” that imposing new restrictions on people’s freedoms is warranted at this time.
Speaking at a private meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, Mr Varadkar said the Covid situation was stable or improving slightly.
He told TDs that the country is doing substantially better than Nphet optimistic models and projections in terms of cases, numbers in hospital, ICU and deaths.
“For this reason, he said he was sceptical that imposing new restrictions on people’s freedoms, family life and businesses would be warranted at this time,” a source told the.
He said, however, there was a concern though that things have stabilised at a high level and if things went wrong in the run-up to Christmas, they would go wrong from a very high base. He said there was a genuine cause for concern with people socialising more with Christmas and the Government would carefully listen to Nphet’s advice on the matter on Thursday before making any decisions.
At the meeting, Mr Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe faced calls from a large number of TDs and Senators for the higher level of Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme payments to the hospitality and events sectors to be restored due to the fact that so many planned events were being cancelled.
A decision on this would be made in the coming days once we have NPHETs advice on restrictions for December, the meeting heard.
At the Fianna Fáil PP, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he and his Government have not been found wanting on business supports to keep jobs and businesses intact.
“We have had a record return on employment and the CSO data shows the recovery of our economy. We are keeping supports under constant review and look forward to meeting the sector in the coming days,” he said.
Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath told the meeting that he and the Taoiseach will meet the hospitality sector representatives on Friday.
Mr McGrath said the Government is actively examining the issues facing the hospitality sector at the moment in light of the recent public health advice.
He said we're aware of the challenges and are considering the issues that arise, while recognising the EWSS at full rates costs around €400m per month.
Mr Martin said the current wave has stabilised with cases, hospitalisation and intensive care unit bed numbers levelling off but there are high case numbers with the Delta wave and cases can flip in the wrong direction very quickly so we remain concerned.
He said 48% of those in hospital with Covid are unvaccinated and 50% in ICU are unvaccinated