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Feb 11, 2021

Leo Varadkar ‘can’t rule out’ another lockdown as he shares winter 2021 thoughts
Leo Varadkar has said that he “can’t promise” that there won’t be another lockdown later this year.
The Fine Gael leader said that the Government is planning a “slow, cautious reopening”, with Taoiseach Micheal Martin confirming previously that schools and construction likely to be the first sectors to reopen.
However, Mr Varadkar said on Wednesday that another lockdown cannot be ruled out, as we “don’t know what next winter is going to look like”.
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Irish Mirror Political Editor Ferghal Blaney
Responding to members of the public who fear that we could be locked into a cycle of lockdowns, the Tanaiste told Radio Kerry: “Those of us in Government share that fear and share that concern, people have been through three lockdowns now and even people in business who are keen to get their shop or business back open would say to me that they don’t want to reopen if they’re just going to be told in three weeks time or four weeks time that they need to close again.
“And for that reason, as the Taoiseach said, any reopening will be conservative and cautious and will be sustainable.
“We can’t promise that there will never need to be another lockdown again, we don’t know what next winter is going to look like, for example.
“But what we’re planning is a slow, cautious reopening, one that is sustainable and one that will avoid another surge which is of course what we all fear not just for business and employment but also the human cost, in terms of people getting sick and losing their lives.”
It comes after Varadkar offered some summer hope as he said outdoor dining and pints are likely to resume in the coming months.
The Government is set to reveal a revised, Living with Covid plan the week after next, with meetings outside to be increased, but hairdressers and High Street retail to remain closed.
Mr Varadkar told reporters on Tuesday that the new roadmap will be coming, without being able to reveal much more to the gathered press pack.
However, Mr Varadkar has separately told the Irish Mirror in an exclusive interview that we could see the massive boost of a quarter of a million Covid vaccinations a week by April.
He also said that “realistically” there is no chance of Covid payments to workers who can’t work because of Covid being cut off on March 31st – it will definitely never be a sudden stop and will continue into the summer.
And the Government deputy leader said that outdoor gatherings and activities like “golf” will be on the table at the next lockdown review date ahead of March 5th.
Mr Varadkar said we could expect to see a summer 2021 “similar to last summer” with “hotels and restaurants open, that’s kind of where I think we’ll be.”
However, he added that “mass gatherings” like theatres and concerts are out.
He said that it is safer outdoors than indoors and so the Government will be prioritising getting people safely out and about from March 5th.
Mr Varadkar told reporters at Government Buildings on Tuesday that it needs to be modified now because when the current plan – which has five levels, was created there was no vaccine and that “a lot has changed” and he said it “makes sense to refresh it.”
He said: “I’d hope that after the 5th of March that it’ll be possible for households for friends and family to meet outdoors, that was part of the first reopening if you remember back in May, around the middle of May you were able to meet other households outdoors or in a garden.
“We know that this virus is nearly 20 times more likely to transmit indoors than outdoors so getting people outdoors would be a good thing.
“But like I say and the Taosieach has said, we’re going to be conservative and cautious about this.”