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Irish Government will not make decisions that ‘undermines’ public health

Decisions must be taken on the next stages of lockdown.

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Minister for Health Simon Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

Minister for Health Simon Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

Minister for Health Simon Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland’s health minister said the Government will not make any decision on easing restrictions that will “undermine” the health of the Irish people.

Simon Harris said the Government will not risk public health as it meets to discuss the next stages of the coronavirus lockdown measures.

“We will not anything that will undermine the health or lives of anyone in this country, of their families or their communities,” Mr Harris said.

“This will be a plan of how you outline safely setting about opening your country.

“People don’t want us to go backwards.”

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has advised the Government on the next stages of the lockdown following its meeting on Friday morning.

Cabinet is now debating the advice and recommendations before Taoiseach Leo Varadkar makes an official announcement which is expected later on Friday.

Nphet is expected to call for the current guidelines to be extended with little or no relaxation of the restrictions in place.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Meanwhile Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty has said it would be too difficult to ease lockdown laws on a regional basis across Ireland.

Earlier this week, Independent TD John Halligan said there is a “case to be made” for easing restrictions in various counties, adding that Dublin has some of the highest infection rates.

However, Ms Doherty told Newstalk FM that such a plan would be too difficult to implement.

“I think it would be a very difficult situation, not only to communicate but also to police, for want of a better word,” she said.

“If all of the restaurants opened in Kildare, for example, I know where all of the people in nearby Meath would be heading to.

“It is very difficult – we are one nation and the fact that some of our more rural communities have been blessed to have less cases of Covid-19 is absolutely great for them as it has exposed them to less risk.

“So, it doesn’t mean we should expose them to an increased level of risk.

“As we reopen our society and bring more people into society, that is going to cause an increased level of risk for everybody.

“For people living in rural communities … the majority of ICU beds are in our cities so the capacity of being able to treat people as a nation, does not come on a regional basis or per town and per county.”

PA