Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said there is no scientific basis to the 20km rule under the next phase of the Government’s roadmap.
Under the current restrictions, people are allowed to travel within 5km of their home unless they are making an essential journey.
Under the next phase of the Government’s roadmap to easing restrictions, this is set to be increased to 20km on June 29.
Speaking in the Dail on Wednesday, Mr Martin questioned the scientific basis for such restrictions.
“The 20km rule which is envisaged to replace the 5km rule…I don’t see a logic to it and I don’t see any scientific basis to it.
“I think we need to deal with it more expeditiously.
“The evidence is that there remains a broad and strong compliance amongst the public when it comes to measures they have been told are essential.
“Eighty percent are staying home and few in urban areas are moving more than five kilometres from their homes.”
He also said “there is no remaining serious justification” for the five kilometre limit for people leaving their homes.
“The public health concern is how people behave around others, not how far they are from their home,” he said.
“In fact, the research shows that this limit may in fact be forcing people in urban areas into more crowded situations.”
Mr Martin questioned why some types of shops have been allowed to re-open.
“Equally the current distinctions between different types of shop are at best arbitrary.
“Supermarkets have been open throughout the pandemic while implementing measures about distancing and hygiene.
“The figures on community spread suggest that the supermarkets have not played a role in spreading the virus, where the overwhelming issue is clustering in health facilities, nursing homes and some workplaces like meat factories.
“In general, the overriding need now is to move to a situation where the focus is put on showing people how to behave once most activity is restored.”
Later on Wednesday, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan insisted that the set kilometre restrictions had helped suppress the disease.
Addressing the daily Covid-19 briefing, Dr Holohan acknowledged that not every country had introduced such travel limits
“It has helped to reinforce for people the important message about staying at home and staying as close as possible, we know not every other country did it this way and countries are different in the way they approached things,” he said.
“But we know the set of measures that we recommended and set out has been effective in achieving the suppression and the prevention of the kinds of scenarios that I think we all feared, back in the early days of February.
“When we had no certainty that we would be in a situation where we could avoid what had been seen unfortunately in large cities like New York, London, Paris and Milan, and a range of other countries across the world, in developed countries with developed health care systems.
“We managed to avoid all of that through the combination of measures we put in place.”