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20th Jan 2022

Taoiseach says “people can be positive” about Covid restrictions lifting

Hugh Carr

Some restrictions such as wearing masks are set to remain for another while.

Micheál Martin has said that it is very possible that changes to Covid restrictions could be coming next week, and that more restrictions could be lifted by the end of January.

The Taoiseach made the comments on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 on Thursday (20 January).

“NPHET are meeting today, the Government will meet tomorrow, and then after that Government meeting, I intend to give a clear and comprehensive statement about what lies ahead in the short term and in the medium term,” Martin said.

“The situation is positive. We have come through Omicron better than we might have expected prior to Christmas.

“The combination of the booster campaign and vaccination, with the fact that Omicron has not been as virulent as Delta and other variants has meant that the impact on people in terms of severe illness and death and cases in ICU has been much less.

“People can be positive, we can be positive. I want to thank the people of Ireland for how much they’ve adapted through the Delta wave and the Omicron wave to enable us to manage and control the impact it’s had on our hospital services.”

The Government is intending on holding a public inquiry to examine how the Government managed with Covid over the past two years.

“I would prefer to call it an evaluation of how the country managed Covid-19, I think we do have to learn lessons, principly learn lessons that pandemics could happen in the future,” Martin said.

“This pandemic isn’t over by the way, I just have to stress that point.

“We want to be in a stronger position when another pandemic arrives, or a similar emergency arrives.

Martin said that he wanted the spirit of the inquiry to be in the right place, so that future Governments wouldn’t make conservative decisions during potential future public health emergencies “because they know an inquiry is on the way”.

“Mistakes get made in the middle of a pandemic, and they will be made, but we need people who are decisive and will make decisions in the public interest,” he added.

The Taoiseach also aired his concern that young people were not availing of the booster, echoing Green Party leader Eamon Ryan’s comments from Wednesday (19 January).

Featured Image: Sam Boal /