Taoiseach Micheál Martin reiterated his stance against a “zero COVID” approach to managing the pandemic. Mr Martin made the comment when asked by The Echo if he stands by the Government’s decision to continue living with COVID.
Micheál Martin described the alternative as “a permanent lockdown”, although a zero COVID approach would see Ireland still “open to the potential of the disease coming back in again because of our geography.”
Micheál said the government is going for “prolonged suppression” of the virus and that we now have vaccines that will help to “give us choices in time”. Community transmission of the virus will need to be eliminated before restrictions can be lifted and life can return to “normal”.
These measures will see the complete reopening of society and the economy, which will include schools reopening, people going back to work and mass gatherings permitted to take place. However, this is provided that there are strict controls in place to prevent the virus re-entering the community, such as the hotel quarantine for travellers that Micheál Martin announced last week.
This is in contrasts with the current Government strategy of “Living with COVID-19”. The current situation aims to instead suppress the virus through restrictions and lockdowns, and gradually lifts restrictions as the case numbers reduce.
New Zealand is one of the countries that adopted a zero COVID approach, and they reaped the rewards with the return of live events and music festivals taking place there, with images and videos circulating on social media. However, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told The Echo it would not be possible to replicate in Ireland.
“The public health advice we’ve received has always been to the effect that zero COVID is a promise you could give but that you might never fulfil, and we are not New Zealand in geography terms,” Micheál Martin added.