Taoiseach Micheal Martin claimed that the July 5 reopening of indoor dining could be delayed over the Delta variant, it has been reported.
A number of other changes are anticipated in the planned easing of restrictions next month including weddings of up to 50 people, the return of communions and confirmations, and visitors from up to three other households being allowed to visit inside your home.
However the Taoiseach has insisted that he “wouldnt be afraid” to delay the big reopening if public health advice dictates.
He told the Irish Independent: Nothing can be guaranteed as of today, and I think there is growing concern in terms of the increased incidence of the Delta variant.”
And when asked whether he would follow any advice from NPHET suggesting a delay of two or three weeks, he added: “Yeah, I think theres been a consistency of approach in terms of our relationship with NPHET in recent times, by and large, overall.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin. (Image: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos Dublin)
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has already raised concerns publicly over the rise in the number of Delta variant cases here.
He said on Monday: “Todays data show a concerning increase in transmission of the Delta variant in Ireland. We estimate that Delta accounts for up to 20% of cases reported in the last week. We have also seen a number of outbreaks associated with this variant reported in the last week.
“This is similar to a pattern being seen in a number of other EU member states. In the UK, Delta has been the dominant strain of Covid-19 for a number of weeks and now they are beginning to experience a rise in hospitalisations.
“It is really important that people who are not fully vaccinated continue to follow all public health advice. This includes people who are waiting for their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“People should take a vaccine when it is offered to them and in the meantime they should continue to avoid crowds, limit contacts, avoid meeting up indoors and work from home where possible.”
However, Leo Varadkar has offered a more upbeat assessment, as he said pubs and indoor dining are still on track to reopen in just under two weeks time
But the Tánaiste has also issued a reserved warning about the growing prevalence of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, saying there is reason for concern, but not for panic.
He added that the massive increase in Delta in the UK has not affected their indoor dining reopening there.
Mr Varadkar was speaking to reporters on the way into the Governments weekly Cabinet meeting of visitors in Dublin Castle on Tuesday morning.
He said: I think when it comes to the Delta variant, there is definitely reason for concern, not reason for panic at this stage.
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Were still on track to ease restrictions further on the 5th of July, but we wont be able to make a final decision on that until next Thursday, when we see more data and we have the most up-to-date advice from NPHET.
Mr Varadkar has also laid the ground for the news of the inevitable development that the more virulent Delta variant will become widespread here.
He added: I think its important to understand that the Delta variant will become dominant in Ireland.
Thats the way the biology works and as the number of Delta cases increases, the number of the other variants will go down.
What we really want to see is what happens with the total number of cases and whether that impacts on hospitals in any way.
In the UK it has been the dominant variant for weeks and weeks now, but they have been able to keep indoor dining open, theres been a small increase in hospital cases.
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