Strategy with clear targets for reopening must give people hope for Christmas over next six weeks
- Government finally sees sense on restoration of supports for workers and families.
- Measurable targets for reopening of country needed so we can build hope for Christmas.
- Clear guidance on Labour’s proposal for social support bubbles essential.
- Nationalising private hospital capacity must be considered.
Responding to the move to Level 5 tonight, Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly said what was needed now was a pathway to Christmas that gives people hope with clear measurable targets on what is needed to get the country back down to Level 3 or lower.
Deputy Kelly said:
“Last Thursday I called on the Government to outline to the public a clear strategy to save Christmas in order to give people hope. Some of that has been achieved and it is welcome that the government has seen sense and moved tonight on much of what the Labour Party proposed last week.
“Hope is important. However it shouldn’t have taken a second lockdown for the restoration of essential supports for workers and families. The new Level 5 restrictions will also have a devastating impact on retail, hospitality and personal services like hairdressing.
“That is why for the next six weeks there must be some level of measurability in relation to what we as a country need to achieve to get back down to Level 3. Such a target will give people hope.
“If we can do that so giving people a certain trigger point that we know will get us to a loosening of restrictions, it will build social solidarity that together we can have some form of Christmas even if that means just being able to travel home to see close family and friends.
“The move to bring in Labour’s proposal for social support bubbles, put forward by my colleague Sen. Rebecca Moynihan is very welcome but there must be clear guidelines issued, and the government must work with the community and voluntary sector again to get the word out on what people need to do. This measure will provide significant reassurance and hope to those living alone.
“I have repeatedly raised the need for rapid antigen testing and I will be seeking more information from the government on their plans to get this in place. Our testing and tracing system must be reinforced and ramped up to get new cases and the spread of Covid-19 under control.
“There must be clear guidance on the mandatory use of face masks and why visors don’t work to halt the spread of the disease.
“I also remain very concerned about non-Covid healthcare issues especially for cancer, coronary and stroke diagnosis and treatments.
“Extra ICU beds and the overall capacity of our health service is still a major issue for the next few months. Instead of looking at long term leases for up to 40% of private hospital space, I would again call on the government to be brave and nationalise some private hospital capacity. This would give the public some reassurance that there will be the critical care in place for those who need treatment this winter.
“Schools and childcare settings remaining open must also be a priority and there has to be much stronger engagement with stakeholders so that the concerns or teachers and school staff are heard.
“Finally the way that the Government is communicating needs to be radically improve and we need consistency from now on. This pandemic is causing so much fear and anxiety to large numbers of people.”