BY MARTIN WALSH
TAOISEACH Micheál Martin, speaking in West Cork this week, said he is ‘very concerned’ about the increase in Covid cases in recent weeks, and that we need to keep working remotely wherever possible.
His comments came following a virtual meeting on Sunday morning last from his home Courtmacsherry home with Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Climate Change Eamonn Ryan, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the chief medical officer.
His comments came ahead of Tuesday night’s decision to tighten restrictions and social contacts once more.
The cabinet has now advised firms to allow staff working from home to continue to do so, and outdoor gatherings are to be limited to 15 people.
Householders should limit visitors to six people from no more than three households.
Sports events and matches are to be held ‘behind-closed-doors’ with no spectators.
‘We are very concerned. I think the basic issue is that people need to refocus in terms of behaviour and people need to keep their distance, need to lessen their contacts,’ the Taoiseach told The Southern Star.
The Taoiseach added that the priority now is to get schools reopened.
‘It’s important that, not only do we reopen the schools, but acknowledge that the teachers and the principals have done fantastic work in many schools across the country, including in West Cork and elsewhere where I have spoken to and met teachers, who have worked very diligently. It is important that we see that through but keep them open as well.’
He said the degree to which we can keep community transmission down in the community is key to that.
‘I think we will all just have to refocus our energies in terms of stopping the transmission of the virus,’ the Taoiseach added.
And he said that in terms of work practices, we need to keep remote working going.
‘People that are working at home or remotely should be allowed to continue by their companies – that’s very important,’ the Taoiseach said.
And he added that meat companies need to be ‘very vigilant’ now.
‘They need to watch their production schedules and look after their workers, both in terms of their accommodation and transport, both to and from work, because we have too many outbreaks of clusters in the meat companies again recently.’
He said that all around, in all levels of society, we have to refocus.
‘The numbers are going up in the wrong direction and the trajectory is in the wrong direction, and that is a significant warning to us all,’ he said.