Easing of Covid rules at Christmas 2020 wrong
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has admitted that mistakes were made in relation to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions at Christmas 2020.
The measures included allowing three households to mix for social and family gatherings in homes, gardens and other outdoor settings, with social distancing observed.
Retail was also allowed to reopen and up to 50 people were permitted to gather at places of worship.
Speaking in New York, Mr Varadkar said that, in hindsight, “there shouldn’t have been any” reopening because of the presence of the Alpha variant of the coronavirus.
But he said he believed the Government “got most things right”.
“I think on reflection, both NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team) and the Government made the wrong call,” the Taoiseach said.
“NPHET proposed one form of reopening, which would have meant a lot of social interactions in private houses.
“Government proposed a different reopening plan, which involved some hospitality and some private houses.
“In retrospect, there shouldn’t been any opening up at all because of the Alpha variant, and that changed things fundamentally.
“But let’s not forget the advice from NPHET at the time initially was that the Alpha variant was not not an issue of concern.
“So there’s a lot of things to be worked through and I think … everyone involved in that time should recognise that we got most things right and did a good job for the country, but nobody was always right”.
Mr Varadkar added that the terms of reference for the Covid-19 inquiry are being drawn up.
Varadkar apologies over Holohan remarks
The Taoiseach apologised to Dr Tony Holohan over personal comments he made during the pandemic that upset the former chief medical officer’s wife.
Dr Holohan has written a memoir in which he refers to the incident when Leo Varadkar upset his wife, Emer Feely, who has since died.
Mr Varadkar said he had not yet read the book, but said he went too far in his remarks in an RTÉ interview almost three years ago, something he said he had acknowledged.
“I was very angry at the time, the way the advice from NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team) had changed very dramatically overnight. That Government wasn’t consulted, that it was briefed to the media before the Government was informed, which I know a lot of us in Government, were very frustrated at.
“But it wasn’t right of me to make personalised criticisms about members of NPET questioning their motivations and their understanding as to how decisions impact on people. That wasn’t fair … and I’m certainly sorry for that,” he said.