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22nd Jan 2022

Seems sudden? This is why the restrictions have completely lifted this soon

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Tony Holohan has revealed the reasons behind the decision.

While many of us are relieved and excited to finally be going back to normal, there is a wave of anxiety over the restrictions being completely lifted.

Many of us are worried that it might be too soon, that the announcement came out of nowhere, and think we should wait a little longer before reopening fully.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan has explained the rationale behind lifting almost all of the restrictions, explaining that the Omicron variant has proved to be less severe despite the peak being two to three times higher than reported, and the case numbers seeing record highs.

Dr Holohan said in a letter to Government that the clinical outcomes were “much less than expected” and there was “clear evidence” both in Ireland and worldwide that the variant is associated with a “significantly reduced population level of severe disease despite continuing high levels of transmission,” The Irish Times revealed.

The letter recommended the reducing of restrictions, with Holohan saying that the “overall epidemiological position is improving, and the most recent data indicates that we have now passed a peak in this wave of infection”.

The Omicron variant now accounts for 97% of cases in the country.

Cases are currently decreasing at a rate of 6% each day, but despite this, the Government and Holohan anticipate they could rise again.

“As case numbers and numbers in hospital decline and the threat recedes, population mobility and social contact will increase, creating additional opportunities for viral transmission, a process which may be accelerated by an increase in social contacts following the relaxation of restrictions. Infections and detected cases may then stabilise or start to increase,” Dr Holohan wrote.

While he has said this, he noted that the level of immunity within the community from both infection rates and the booster vaccines should ensure that any rise in cases will not result in high levels of “serious disease or an unsustainable demand on healthcare”.

Photograph: Sasko Lazarov /