Revised Covid-19 plan criticised as ‘more of the same’

Opposition figures, hospitality industry and ‘zero Covid’ campaigners criticise plan

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett claimed that the Government had failed to ensure schools would be safe. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett claimed that the Government had failed to ensure schools would be safe. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Opposition TDs, representatives of the hospitality industry and campaigners for a ‘zero Covid’ strategy have criticised the Government’s revised plan for living with Covid-19.

Labour leader Alan Kelly claimed the plan lacks clear measures to aggressively suppress Covid-19 in the community and instead “relies solely” on the vaccination rollout.

“This is more of the same, with a reliance on continued lockdowns until vaccines reach enough of the population,” he said.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald welcomed the news that the public-health advice allows for a phased return to schools and childcare. However, she said the “bigger picture” was “very concerning”, claiming there was still a “reckless” approach to international travel.

Sinn Féin and other Opposition parties have been calling for mandatory hotel quarantining for all international visitors other than essential workers, rather than the more limited plans being pursued by the Government, which will initially involve passengers from 20 countries.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall called on the Government to clarify what steps it will take between now and April 5th to bring down Covid-19 case numbers. “A clear connection needs to be drawn between safe daily case numbers and the easing of restrictions.”

‘Shambolic’

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, who has advocated for a zero-Covid approach, branded the Government’s handling of the crisis as “shambolic”.

He claimed that the Government had failed to ensure schools would be safe with adequate space and ventilation for a return of students and it would be a “dangerous gamble” given the levels of the virus at the moment.

Trinity College Dublin assistant professor Tomás Ryan, one of the leading scientific campaigners for a zero-Covid approach, argued the plan offered no way of preventing other variants of the virus from being seeded in Ireland and did not “offer a vision for how we will come out of this and stay out”.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland expressed “extreme disappointment” at the plan, saying it was “unacceptable that no clear path” to reopening had been outlined.

Irish Hotels Federation president Elaina Fitzgerald Kane said the Government was “in denial in relation to the supports required” by the hospitality sector which had been “devastated by the restrictions”.

Laura Erskine from the online parenting community the BabyDoc Club said most parents would be relieved with the announcement that there would be a phased return to schools and childcare beginning next week.

She raised concern at reports that new variants of the virus were “more contagious” among children. “Common sense would see mandatory face coverings introduced for all primary school children,” she said.