Taoiseach Micheal Martin claimed that July 5 reopening for indoor dining could be delayed on a delta variant, it has been reported.
A number of other changes are expected in the planned easing of restrictions next month including weddings of up to 50 people, the return of benefits and assurances, and allowing visitors from three other households to visit inside your home.
However, Taoiseach insisted he “would not be afraid” of delaying a big reopening if public health advice dictated.
“Nothing can be guaranteed as of today, and I think there is growing concern about an increased incidence of the delta variable,” he told the Irish Independent.
When asked if he would follow any advice from NPHET suggesting a two- or three-week delay, he added: “Yes, I think there has been consistency in approach with regard to our relationship with NPHET recently, in general, in general.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan has already raised public concerns about the high number of variable delta cases here.
He said on Monday: “Today’s data shows an alarming increase in transmission of the delta variant in Ireland. We estimate that deltas account for up to 20% of cases reported in the past week. We have also seen a number of outbreaks associated with this variant reported last week.”
“This is similar to the pattern 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 starting to experience a spike in hospitalizations.
“It is really important that people who have not been 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 the vaccine when it is offered to them and in the meantime they should continue to avoid crowds, limit contacts, avoid meeting indoors and working from home where possible.”
However, Leo Varadkar gave a more upbeat assessment, saying indoor bars and restaurants are “still on track” to reopen in just under two weeks.
But Tánaiste also issued a conservative warning about the increasing spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, saying there was “cause for concern”, but not “cause for panic”.
He added that Delta’s massive increase in the UK has not affected the reopening of their indoor restaurants there.
Varadkar was speaking to reporters on his way to the government’s weekly cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle on Tuesday morning.
He said, “I think when it comes to the delta variable, there’s definitely cause for concern, not reason to panic at this point.
“We’re still on the way to easing restrictions further on July 5th, but we won’t be able to make a final decision on that until next Thursday, when we see more data and have the latest advice from NPHET.”
Varadkar also laid the groundwork for news of the inevitable development that a more virulent delta variant would become widespread here.
He added: “I think it’s important to understand that the delta variant is going to become dominant in Ireland.
“This is how biology works and as the number of deltas increases, the number of other variables will decrease.
“What we really want to see is what happens with the total number of cases and whether that affects hospitals in any way.
“In the UK the alternative has been the dominant one for weeks and weeks now, but they’ve been able to keep indoor dining open and there has been a slight increase in hospital cases.”
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