TÃ¡naiste Leo Varadkar said the government does not plan to introduce more restrictions until the end of the year. But if they were needed, they would take action.
âIf we have to, we will act to protect lives and to protect health services,â he said.
Mr Varadkar added that he thought Ireland could “temper” the Omicron variant. While he was more communicable and there would be a high number of cases, he “hoped and expected” that the high number of cases would not translate into high levels of hospitalization and death.
However, he warned that there could be a “more serious” impact on primary care. Mr. Varadkar also expressed concern about the impact of the high number of cases on health and essential services.
He told RTÃ’s Morning Ireland that it was important that essential work continue. Contingency plans were in place and had been around for some time. The HSE had a national protocol that staff who were in close contact could continue to work if they had no symptoms.
Mr Vardkar also said he did not anticipate schools would not reopen after Christmas. If there were to be a change, the Minister of Education would make an announcement.
Sectoral programs would also be in place for the aviation, sports and entertainment sectors, he said. With additional supports for the hospitality industry. The terms and conditions would apply with the devil in details to be announced tomorrow, he said.
âIreland has handled the pandemic well. We are the fifth lowest in terms of deaths per million (in Europe). This is because of the decisions of the turn.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said Nphet will continue to monitor the number of Covid cases over Christmas.
“We are not leaving for Christmas,” he told RTÃ radio..
However, Dr Holohan denied reports of a meeting with the Taoiseach scheduled for December 30 to introduce new restrictions.
Dr Holohan explained that Nphet’s offer of a 5 p.m. closing time for hospitality was an attempt to reduce opportunities for socialization. But ultimately it was up to everyone to watch their own behavior and take preventative measures.
It was difficult to say no to family reunions at all times, but it was especially difficult at Christmas, he said. When there were fewer opportunities to socialize, the level of socialization decreased.
Just because the places were open didn’t mean people had to go, he added, and it’s up to everyone to protect themselves and their families.
The new measures that come into place today will help curb the spread of the Omicron variant and will be complemented by public health measures and by the public âon boardâ of the measures, according to Dr Holohan.
He said it was really important for people to hear and heed this message now.
Nphet would continue to monitor advice from ECDC and international expert bodies.
If Nphet believed that further action was needed, then they would force a change.
Ireland is in a different situation than the Netherlands due to the high level of vaccination and booster doses, but no two countries are in the same situation, Dr Holohan continued.
Public health assessments are based on what was best for each country, and there are many other countries with strong public health systems that still had no choice but to implement restrictions.
Dr Holohan said it would be best to “focus on what is in front of us”. The intention is to “flatten the curve” so that the health care system can avoid being overwhelmed.
It is important that healthcare workers receive their booster vaccine, limit their own behavior and socialization so as not to put patients at risk. “It is a virus that spreads very easily,” he added.
Dr Holohan declined to speculate that measures might still be in place by Christmas next year. He said the ability to limit transmission belongs to everyone.
Dr Holohan noted that vaccines offer a level of protection against serious illness and death, and there was currently a lot of misinformation that vaccines did not work.
They did, he said, and due to the vaccination program Ireland has one of the lowest hospitalization and death rates in Europe.