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Fine Gael TDs call on Government to end rolling lockdowns

Varadkar tells FG parliamentary party of concerns over Covid-19 reinfections

Eoghan Murphy told the meeting that the level of risk is not the same countrywide. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Fine Gael TDs have called privately on the Government to end the rolling national lockdown and implement county or regional restrictions.

At a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday evening Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also raised concern about potential Covid-19 reinfections.

It is understood Mr Varadkar said that several factors will be taken into consideration when the Cabinet meets next week to decide what restrictions to lift from April 5th.

Mr Varadkar told the meeting that, while indicators were positive, such as the number of hospitalisations, other indicators were less encouraging including the reproductive number.

The Fine Gael leader told the meeting that it is hard to make a long-term plan for dealing with Covid-19 because of the potential for reinfections, existence of variants and uncertainty around immunity.

In the Czech Republic, coronavirus reinfections are growing fast, with the number jumping to 1,400 by February 28th, from 158 registered at the end of January and 56 at the end of 2020.

Outdoor measures

Sources at the meeting said a number of TDs argued in favour of putting the restrictions on a county-wide, or regional basis, depending on incidence of the disease.

Mr Varadkar also said the Government will place a focus on people’s mental health when it comes to easing restrictions, indicating changes to outdoor measures or meetings.

Party TD and former minister for housing Eoghan Murphy told the meeting that the level of risk is not the same across the country. He is understood to have said that it is “time to end the national lockdown strategy”.

Minister of State in the Department of Education Josepha Madigan raised the question of how many cases the country could live with and said that legal restrictions should not be conflated with public health advice, citing the examples of religious services.

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