Varadkar Hopes for End to COVID Restrictions by Late March

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At a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party last night, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he hopes all remaining COVID restrictions will be lifted by March 31st.

That's the date that current emergency legislation for the provision of COVID restrictions ends.

Varadkar said that while some measures like mask-wearing indoors and COVID passes for international travel will likely remain, he hopes the requirement for COVID passes for hospitality and entertainment venues can be scrapped.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has gone so far as to say he believes mask-wearing on public transport and in shops will be removed by April.

"These are emergency powers," Donnelly said, adding that he hopes the emergency legislation will not need to be extended beyond March 31st.

Transport minister Eamon Ryan has expressed a hope that the current 8pm curfew on hospitality, entertainment and arts venues can be lifted next week.

"I think we need to start bringing back some of our social life," Ryan said. "It’s important for our health, wellbeing, welfare."

"The position we’re in at the moment is a lot better than it looked a number of weeks ago," he added. "The numbers in ICU have steadied [and it] looks like it’s going to give us the chance to start lifting restrictions quickly, in my mind very widely."

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will meet on Thursday to discuss the current situation. A cabinet meeting is expected to follow on Friday or early next week to make a decision on easing of restrictions.

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