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New coronavirus restrictions not sustainable for a long period - Simon Harris

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Minister for Health, Simon Harris (Steve Humphreys/PA)

Minister for Health, Simon Harris (Steve Humphreys/PA)

Minister for Health, Simon Harris (Steve Humphreys/PA)

Health minister Simon Harris has said new lockdown measures which kicked in at midnight last night cannot be in place for “a very long period of time”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday evening announced strict new rules which see that people must stay in their homes until Easter Sunday, April 12, apart from a few essential exceptions.

Simon Harris expressed hope there could be some relaxation of the measures after an initial two-week period of enforcement, but he warned that life will not be returning to normal in the short term.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Radio One weekend special of Morning Ireland this morning, minister Harris said that the strict measures, which kicked in at midnight, are “so significant” that they cannot be in place for “a very long time”.

“The measures that we put in place last night are so significant that they cannot be kept in place too long, you cannot ask people to sustain this for a very long period of time,” he said.

“That’s why we are really asking people to double down for the next two weeks, it’s going to be tough.”

He said that life will not “return to normal” once the two week period is over.

“Will we be in a position on April 12 where life in Ireland will return to normal? Absolutely not, let’s be honest with each other, these measures that we’re going to need to continue to work at,” he explained.

“Do we hope to be in a position in two weeks’ time to say that we made progress and some of the measures can be tweaked or moved or changed? Absolutely,” he said.

He acknowledged that this is may be a difficult time for people who have lost their jobs and are feeling worried or anxious.

“We do have to strip back all of the noise and actually remind people what we are trying to do here- we’re trying to keep each other alive.”

He said that the numbers of people in ICU units in the coming days will rise.

“Over the next number of days, we’re going to see that significantly rise, because remember, people who are admitted to ICU over the next week probably already have this infection,” he said.

“But we would expect, and our medical advisors will expect, that these measures that we’ve now put in place could start to slow down that curve in about 10 days to two weeks, that’s what we’re working towards.”

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