Roadmap welcome but further clarity needed
Reacting the the latest announcement by an Taoiseach on Covid-19 restrictions, Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly TD said:
“I welcome the fact that the Taoiseach has made the announcement this evening that our people will be allowed to exercise now within 5km of their homes. This is a small change but a welcome one.
“I also welcome that our older people who are cocooning will now be able to take exercise out of their homes, however I do feel that our older people need to be given some hope as to when they can be reunited with their families again. The whole pandemic, as we all know, is having an extraordinary impact on the well-being of our nation. The over-70s feel that more than most.
“These people in the later years of their lives have been the most disciplined in this crisis and have contributed more than anyone else to creating this great country – they need to know when they can see their grandchildren again and meet up with friends. We must help maintain their mental wellbeing at this difficult time and the Taoiseach should some indication of when they can try live life somewhat normally.
“The roadmap that the Taoiseach has published this evening states that our economy will reopen in phases set three weeks apart. This needs to be reviewed and narrowed to two weeks in the later stages where possible.
“Elements of the roadmap that the Taoiseach has put forward today are still very vague, especially when it comes to businesses and when they can reopen. Businesses and their employees need clarity as to when they will be back to work. Workers also must be assured that their terms, conditions and rights at work will not be compromised during this time if they are being asked to stagger their shifts or be asked to be made available at more unsocial times.
“I have concerns about how people with young children will be able to get back to work, considering creches are not due to open until one of the final phases of reopening our economy. The Government need to give further explanation on how they think this will work.
“We need clarity on the future status of exceptional support payments – we know that the tourism and hospitality industries will continue to suffer through this crisis much after many other areas of the economy. How does the Government intend to support workers and businesses through this time?
“I am seriously concerned about the secondary health impacts on our health service. People who have underlying medical conditions or who don’t know that they are sick at all are missing appointments, screening has been suspended and diagnostics are suffering. We also know we have elevated mental health risks. On top of that are the socioeconomic impacts of maintaining restrictions.
“I am disappointed that the Taoiseach hasn’t responded to questions from journalists on the publication of the Government’s roadmap. We are at a very significant phase of this virus and those who are making decisions on behalf of all of our people need to be held to account.
“I accept that the Government isn’t going to get everything right in the coming days, weeks and months and we will of course give the Government leeway to change things around in their plan but accountability must go hand in hand in doing what is best for our citizens.”