Taoiseach Micheál Martin has delivered a stark warning to his party that there can be no guarantees that another lockdown will not be needed in the coming weeks.
Addressing the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, Mr Martin said: “We are in a challenging period, and the coming weeks will be uncertain, with no guarantees.”
He said the modelling on case numbers as presented to Government is very worrying, with a peak expected in the coming weeks.
Socialisation has to be reduced,” he stressed.
Mr Martin said he recognises the impact on the night-time economy and how tough it is.
“The purpose of all economic intervention to date is to support businesses and workers in our society,” he said.
There is 60,000 now on PUP, and there are many opportunities in sectors of our economy for employment.”
Up to 270,000 booster vaccines are to be administered every week as the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) has been asked to look at reducing the five-month gap between initial vaccination and booster shots.
Mr Martin said he has asked Niac to review the five-month timeframe, especially for those who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines.
Mr Martin also told the meeting that housing minister Darragh O’Brien will bring proposals on the mica redress scheme in the next week or so.
We must deal with this issue in a comprehensive way,” he said.
Mr Martin was challenged by Kilkenny TD John McGuinness on the failure to respond to the ‘Grace’ case and the calls for a full inquiry into the Shane O’Farrell death.
Several party sources said the exchanges were “tetchy”, but Mr Martin did respond with some good answers, and Mr McGuinness “did not win the room over”.
At the Fine Gael meeting, held in the absence of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who is in the Middle East, the lack of PUP for night-time economy workers was raised.
Talking about hospitality workers who were affected by the new restrictions to be implemented on Thursday, social protection minister Heather Humphreys said that hospitality workers “won’t be found wanting”, and that “they weren’t found wanting before, and won’t be again”.
It is understood Ms Humphreys said that: “Last year people were complaining that people wanted the workers off the PUP, and now they want them back on it.”
“She made a good point,” a senior Fine Gael source said.
Kerry TD Brendan Griffin called for the overhaul of Niac, saying it had been too slow to issue advice on boosters.