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Labour leader Alan Kelly says children should be allowed give grandparents a 'quick hug'


Alan Kelly. Picture: Collins

Alan Kelly. Picture: Collins

Alan Kelly. Picture: Collins

LABOUR leader Alan Kelly has called for all travel limits to be lifted by the end of June and for grandparents to be allowed give their grandchildren a “quick hug” from next week.

Mr Kelly called for the acceleration of the reopening roadmap with all Covid-19 restrictions lifted by July 20, instead of August 10 on condition the number of new cases continues to decline.

The Tipperary TD said he did not see any issue with children giving their grandparents a quick hug once they are allowed to visit them from next week under phase two of the reopening plan.

Speaking at Leinster House on Wednesday, Mr Kelly: “I don't believe that we have to be as rigid as we are. The facts are that you have to move with what we're seeing and I honestly believe that the public in many cases are ahead of the politicians on this matter.”

He said that some behaviour over the last week was not acceptable, but “by-and-large” people are adhering to the restrictions. He said Irish society cannot be “put into hibernation” indefinitely.

He continued: “It’s good to be conservative but the level of conservatism is the issue here and I think there is a real concern now because ultimately from a societal point of view if we don’t have a normalisation at some degree quicker we will not have the health services rolled out to the level required.”

Mr Kelly cited comments by Professor Luke O’Neill that a “quick hug” between grandparents and grandchildren would be okay under the next phase of the reopening plan that is due to come into effect on Monday.

Asked whether grandchildren should be allowed to hug their grandparents, Mr Kelly said: “I don’t see any issue in the next week or so if that happens, personally.

“The impacts for people who are in their 70s or 80s of not seeing their grandchildren for three months, you’d have to wonder from a health point of view, from a psychological point of view, the impacts there are not good.”

Mr Kelly said people are ahead of politicians in their response to the pandemic.

“You can see it in relation to how people are behaving, you can see it in relation to increased traffic and the reason they are is because they have conditioned themselves. Irish society has conditioned itself in relation to Covid, in relation to how we all behave, in relation to our cleanliness, in relation to our hygiene, absolutely all our etiquette," he said.

“That's why people are more confident and possibly getting ahead of everybody else, but that’s a good thing because there is an educational process that has been gone through as well."

Mr Kelly also called for more clarity from the government on the roadmap for reopening non-Covid health services. He expressed concerns about the rate of secondary morbidity as a result of people not accessing health services during the pandemic emergency.

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