Domestic use of digital Covid certs unlikely after March, says Varadkar

Requirement on wearing masks in crowded public places could become a seasonal requirement rather than a permanent rule
Domestic use of digital Covid certs unlikely after March, says Varadkar

He said that the Irish people have done all they can as a society and there should be a dividend for that.

People are unlikely to need a digital Covid cert to enter a pub or restaurant after the end of March, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told a private Fine Gael party meeting.

Mr Varadkar, addressing an online meeting of his party ahead of the return of the Dáil on Wednesday, said the cert will be required for international travel for some considerable time but “not for domestic purposes”.

He said he wants to “end almost all those legal restrictions that we're currently subject to”.

Mr Varadkar also suggested that the requirement on wearing masks in crowded public places could become a seasonal requirement rather than a permanent rule.

“I think it'd be really good if we could set March 31 as our target for ending all legal restrictions, the legislation around masks and Covid passes and all the rest of it expires on March 31.

"And not promising that's possible, we do have the option of extending that for another three months until the end of June. But I would like us to have it done by the end of March if that's at all possible,” he said.

Reopening society

Mr Varadkar said he wants Fine Gael to “be in the space” of arguing that the pace of reopening Ireland should be inline or as fast as anywhere else in Europe because we are the most vaccinated place in Europe.

He said that the Irish people have done all they can as a society and there should be a dividend for that.

He said that the Government will need to prepare for a new wave of Covid-19 later this year. 

“That means continuing to increase the number of hospital beds and the number of ICU beds that we have," he said. "It means being prepared for another round of vaccination, if that's necessary, later in the year."

The Irish Examiner has learned that Mr Varadkar told his TDs, senators and MEPs that there will be a Cabinet meeting on Friday to sign off on the easing of restrictions following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team on Thursday.

Mr Varadkar said that while Ireland handled the pandemic well, the cost of the restrictions has been “very severe”.

I think about a particularly negative impact on younger people, and young adults who haven't had a normal youth.

"They haven't had the rites of passage that are normal for young adults for about two years now. Like seeing their friends on Instagram having much more normal lives in London in New York, and Dubai, and people are finding it very difficult,” he said.

He said for people involved in areas such as culture, sport, and music and the arts are, those things aren't just their job or their business, they're also their passion and they have been adversely affected.

“We've been very strict rules around all those things for two years now, probably the only country in the world where it hasn't been possible to stand in a bar for two years or to go to your office if you want to for two years, wherewith exception of about three weeks, it's been very hard to attend a concert or a gig or nightclub or a full stadium,” he said.

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