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Taoiseach calls out Britain’s ‘free for all’ lift of restrictions


Taoiseach Micheál Martin criticised the UK's lifting of lockdown. Photo: Reuters

Taoiseach Micheál Martin criticised the UK's lifting of lockdown. Photo: Reuters

Taoiseach Micheál Martin criticised the UK's lifting of lockdown. Photo: Reuters

Taoiseach Micheál Martin yesterday criticised the “free for all” in the lifting of all lockdown restrictions in Britain.

He warned that if the epidemiological situation worsens in the UK, it can “spill over” into Ireland.

Spokespersons for the Taoiseach could not say last night if the Coalition’s concerns around the spread of the Delta variant in the UK due to lockdown easing and the effect it may have in Ireland have been communicated to London.

The Irish Independent did not get answers to repeated questions on whether official or unofficial representations have been made to Prime Minister Johnson before or after it was announced restrictions would be removed in the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced recently all legal requirements regarding masks, social distancing and the numbers of people who can gather will be lifted and people will be allowed “make their own informed decisions”.

“I am concerned about the free for all that seems to be developing within the UK and that does raise issues for us,” Mr Martin said at Government buildings yesterday.

“What happens in the UK can spill over pretty quickly. Our public health advice would be that that’s not the way to go, [Britain] is obviously a sovereign nation and is entitled to make its decisions but they obviously do impact on us.”

He urged caution for people travelling to the UK and said that Nphet modelling needs to be “taken seriously”.

However, he declined to say if unvaccinated people should travel to the UK, saying that “the public health advice stands and has merit”.

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“So I think people need to be cautious and careful and I would say generally, in respect of the Delta variant, we all need to reframe our thinking.

“What’s happening in Scotland and the UK seems to be bearing out some of the Nphet modelling, so we need to take it seriously.”

The alarm around reopening in the UK was also sounded by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who said in recent days that the lifting of all restrictions in the UK is “too risky”.

He warned that if “things go wrong” across the pond, there will be a “spillover effect” here.

“The prospect of packed theatres in the West End and packed nightclubs in Manchester being packed to the rafters is one that would concern me, to be quite frank, in this country.

“If things go wrong in England, it will have a spillover effect in Ireland,” he added.

Over 100 global experts have signed a letter accusing the UK government of conducting a “dangerous and unethical experiment” and urging it to reconsider its plans to abandon all restrictions.

The letter, published in The Lancet, states any strategy that “tolerates high levels of infection is both unethical and illogical” and has been signed 122 experts including David King, the former chief scientific adviser and chair of Independent Sage and Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the Council for the British Medical Association.

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