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Varadkar says there's a 'good chance' two-metre social distancing rule can be reduced

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said there's a "good chance" the two metre social distancing rule can be reduced to one, if the spread of coronavirus continues to drop.

He also said he believes the country is "on track" to see a further easing of restrictions on June 8.

Mr Varadkar said there's a possibility that the roadmap for reopening can be accelerated for businesses like hairdressers and bars, but the "worst thing for everyone" would be if restrictions had to be re-imposed because this was done too soon.

Speaking on FM104 radio Mr Varadkar said more than 1,500 people have died and a lot of people are still sick.

He said that if there country hadn't been closed down there could have been a million cases of the disease and 30,000 deaths.

But he said "the plan is working" and the numbers are improving.

The number of new cases and rate of spread of the virus will be examined next week to see whether phase two of the reopening can begin on June 8.

He said new measures include opening more shops and allowing people to meet indoors and added: "I think we're on track".

There have been growing calls for the two-metre social distancing rule to be relaxed to help schools, businesses and health services when they reopen.

Mr Varadkar said the rule is still in place for now.

He said different bodies have issued varying advice on the distance but "there’s one thing we know for sure – if somebody has coronavirus it's safer to be two metres away than one."

He said: "before we can relax that rule and maybe reduce it to one - which I know a lot of people would like - we just need to see the virus come down a bit more.

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"We're just not at that point yet but I think there’s a good chance that we’ll get there, just not quite yet."

Mr Varadkar said there is hope that the reopening plans can be accelerated when asked about businesses like hairdressers and bars and that he wants this to happen.

"The reason why we can't make any judgment call on that yet is it's really only two weeks after you relax the restriction that you know whether the virus is spreading again or not.

"That's why we have these three week intervals.

"It's really the numbers next week that tell us whether we're still going in the right direction."

He says he tells business owners that want to reopen: "The worst thing that could happen for you would be if we jumped the gun and we said go open your restaurant, open your bar, open your business, then we turned around two or three weeks later and had to re-impose the lockdown."

"That would be the worst thing for everyone," he added.


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