People should “exercise their own judgment” about taking children with them to indoor hospitality settings, the Taoiseach has said.
The Government has passed legislation allowing vaccinated people to take their unvaccinated children inside pubs and restaurants.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned the public that it is “safer” not to do so, even though it is allowed by law, and urged people to wait until higher levels of the population have been vaccinated.
There is a need for personal responsibility; we need to trust people as wellTaoiseach Micheal Martin
Labour leader Alan Kelly told the Dail on Wednesday that the legislation is “an Irish solution to an Irish problem” which will operate on a “nod, nod, wink, wink” basis.
Responding to those comments, Micheal Martin said: “We’re facilitating the reopening of indoor hospitality and dining in a safe way, in as safe a way as we possibly can.
“What I would say to the leader of the Labour Party and others, we need to trust people too.
“This is a collective effort as a society to try and deal with an unprecedented global pandemic, which has many twists and turns, the most recent now being the Delta variant.”
The Taoiseach said people should take the advice of the chief medical officer seriously, but added that the Government has to balance that against other factors, such as the economy.
“My view on that… the Government made a decision, people can bring their children in.
“One has to have a balance here, in terms of how we help people operate and how people live their lives.
“The chief medical officer will advise, Government has to take decisions in terms of broader issues that Government has to consider.
“I think the key point, really, is that there is a need for personal responsibility; we need to trust people as well.”
Asked if people should use their own judgment on taking children into indoor hospitality settings, he said: “Yes, people make their own judgments, exercise their own judgment.
“I think, in many instances, there won’t be any difficulty in terms of children accompanying parents in a controlled environment.
“Remember, there are significant controls in a restaurant, for example, in terms of what’s envisaged in the sector’s guidelines.
“It’s a very controlled environment there.
“It’s about individual and personal behaviour and, at the end of the day, balanced with the legislative framework that will govern the reopening.”
However, Mr Martin warned that the country is entering a challenging period with the rise of the Delta variant, and urged people to be vigilant.
“The next six weeks to two months will be challenging because of the nature of the Delta variant, its transmissibility, and the clear rise in cases,” he said.
“All of us as individuals have to be particularly vigilant about this.
“We just have to work in controlled environments, adhere to the guidelines, do the basics, as we always have, in terms of social distancing, in terms of hand-washing.
“We will work on ventilation as well over the next while, particularly in terms of schools, to make sure we’re ahead of that and to anticipate any further challenges down the line.”