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Varadkar: "We should leave restrictions in place until those most at risk vaccinated"

By James Fenton

January 3, 2021 at 5:48pm

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An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that Covid-19 restrictions should be kept in place until "such a time that we have those most at risk vaccinated."

A record 4,962 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Sunday evening and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said today that hospitals are under "extreme pressure" at the moment.

Ireland's vaccination process began earlier this week and speaking today on RTE Radio One's This Week, Varadkar said that "I think there is a strong case now to say to the Irish people that we should leave restrictions in place more or less as they are now until such a time that we have those most at risk vaccinated, even if that means going well into February."

He added that "I think the public would understand that the vaccine does change the picture, we have the opportunity now to suppress the virus and get numbers down really low and use that time to vaccinate those who are most at risk, and then we can consider the situation at that point.”

On the kind of numbers that Ireland would need in order to ease restrictions that are in place until January 31 at the earliest, Varadkar said: "If we are still at 800 cases a day on average a day, or on a five day or seven day average of that, at the end of January I don’t see how restrictions could be eased."

Earlier today, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan told Newstalk that the current 5km exercise limit could be reduced to 2km if case numbers don't drop sufficiently. You can read about Ireland's current Level 5 measures in more detail here.

READ NEXT: It's time to dust off this handy '5km from home' tool again

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