We have navigated our way through the maze of this pandemic using public health advice – and that advice has now identified an exit
The removal of almost all covid restrictions is a historic moment in our battle against covid, according to Social Democrats Health Spokesperson Róisín Shortall.
“Covid has consumed all of our lives for nearly two years. Every facet of society, and every occasion, interaction and event, changed in its wake. As the virus now recedes, and its virulence is weakened, we can begin to look forward to a return to normality.
“Restrictions on personal freedoms were a draconian, but necessary, response to the pandemic. They were required to reduce transmission of the virus and prevent death and serious illness. In the absence of an underlying public health rationale, it is right and proper that these restrictions are lifted at the first available opportunity.
“Today is a historic moment in our battle against covid. It is also an occasion that is tinged with sadness as we remember all of those we lost, and all of those who endured trauma and suffering, during this dark time. The dawn of this new phase, as we dare to dream of a life that is not dominated by covid, is only possible thanks to a hugely successful vaccination programme and the resolve of the Irish people, the vast majority of whom abided by every restriction that was asked of them in a collective effort to save lives.
“While covid took a wrecking ball to our routines and daily habits, there are some changes that many will want to retain. Chief among these is hybrid working and the government must now move to quickly clarify the right of workers to continue working remotely. A plan to swiftly deal with the large backlog of non-covid cases in hospitals, now that the disruptive force of the pandemic is waning, must also be quickly drafted.
“For now, we can remain hopeful but vigilant. Covid is still with us, but it no longer controls our lives or livelihoods. The State, however, must remain ready to act if there is any change in outlook. This means continued interaction with the European Medicines Agency, on the potential need for future vaccine doses, and the capacity to swiftly ramp up its response if that is required.
“The past two unprecedented years will take some time to recover from. Some will find the adjustment strange and worrisome. But, we have navigated our way through the maze of this pandemic using public health advice – and that advice has now identified an exit. It may take some time to fully get to the other side, but the end is in sight and the future is bright.”
21 January, 2022