Life should be ‘relatively normal’ again by August, Varadkar says, with most Covid restrictions gone

Tánaiste hopes to see customers allowed indoors in pubs and restaurants in July

A mural of Freddie Mercury by Emmalene Blake, in Kingswood, Dublin, as Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has said he is hoping for a return to normality by late summer. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A mural of Freddie Mercury by Emmalene Blake, in Kingswood, Dublin, as Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has said he is hoping for a return to normality by late summer. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he’s hoping August will be the month when life is “relatively normal” again.

While he said promises couldn’t be made due to uncertainty about the virus, he suggested there will be a “pretty normal” Christmas.

Mr Varadkar said he hopes to see customers allowed indoors in pubs and restaurants in July but a decision can’t be made on that until the end of June.

He said: “Cases are stable, hospitalisations, ICU are falling and every day, tens of thousands more people are vaccinated so you know if I was in hospitality business I’d be planning for outdoors in June and indoors in July subject to all the usual caveats.”

Speaking at a press conference Mr Varadkar was asked when he expects Ireland to be back to relative normality.

He said he’s looking at countries with more progressed vaccination programmes like the UK and Israel.

“I think Israel is pretty much back to normal. They’re welcoming tourists again, they’re having not very large gatherings but they are having mass gatherings. They have got to that point where we would expect to be by August.”

He added: “So I’m hopeful that’s the month when things are relatively normal again.

“That doesn’t mean that everything will be the same.

“But the vast majority of restrictions you would hope to see gone.”

Winter

He said children will be returning to school as normal that month and he expects students back on college campuses in September “and then a pretty normal Christmas in terms of seeing our friends and our relations.”

However, he added that nobody could promise these things.

He said it’s a new virus and vaccines haven’t even been around for a year - their efficacy could wear off or variants may be resistant.

“We don’t know what will happen when winter comes so I think we have to get through another winter to be sure but I do think life will be pretty much normal in August and September but not exactly normal.

“I think there will still be restrictions around international travel and mass gatherings particularly.”

Mr Varadkar, the Minister for Enterprise, was asked about proposals from the Temple Bar Company that would see almost 3,000 customers outside premises when restrictions on outdoor hospitality are eased next month.

He said he encourages city and county councils around the country to allow businesses to make use of outdoor spaces.

He said the guidelines for outdoor dining and drinking have not yet been finalised but this will be done “well before the 7th of June” when it’s expected to be permitted. He said it will involved recording the names of customers for contact tracing and not limiting numbers to 15 but recognising that the space available can be big or small.