Double St Patrick’s Day likely to honour pandemic workers next year, Leo Varadkar says

Double St Patricks Day likely to honour pandemic workers


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said there will not be a special bank holiday on St Bridget’s Day to mark the Covid pandemic next year because hospitals could still be under pressure from Covid.

he Fine Gael leader said it was more likely to be a double holiday for St Patrick’s Day in 2022 as that would give more time for the country to recover from the pandemic.

However, the he told Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio this morning that the holiday could revert to February 1 in future years.

The Government has been wrangling with how to reward workers who served on the frontlines during the pandemic.

A new bank holiday on St Brigid’s Day had been mooted, with frontline workers such as those in the healthcare sector set for a once-off pandemic bonus payment, although this has not been finalised.

The saint’s feast day on February 1, which heralds the start of spring, is still the preferred option among ministers and is likely to become a permanent holiday.

However, senior government sources told this week that an announcement during the current Covid surge would be viewed as “tone deaf”.

Speaking about the possibility of the Government bringing in more restrictions before Christmas, Mr Varadkar said: “I wouldn’t like us to rush into any decisions either because it would be a big mistake I think for us to impose a whole set of new restrictions in the next couple of days only to find out that we’ve turned the corner anyway.”

Asked whether the booster jab programme should have started sooner, he would have preferred it to start sooner, but he said the Government had to await the scientific advice, and that he did not want to criticise the National Immunisation Advisory Committee.

More to follow…

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