Shirtless Irish PM filmed with partner and friends in breach of social distance rules in the park
Irish premier Leo Varadkar has come under heavy criticisms as video of him emerged meeting friends in Dublin’s Phoenix Park at the weekend – despite official warnings against having picnics.
The shirtless Taoiseach was filmed outdoors with his partner Matt Barrett and two others near Steward’s Lodge where he has been staying during the pandemic.
Some viewers suggested that the two-metre (6ft) safety distance was not being observed, but Mr Varadkar’s office insists he followed lockdown rules.
The footage of the Irish premier has emerged just as his UK counterpart Boris Johnson is engulfed in a row over his adviser Dominic Cummings and his alleged breaches of lockdown rules.
Irish lockdown rules also ban trips more than 5km from home, and Mr Vradakar was accused of traveling from his personal Dublin flat which was 7km from the park.
But the premier is staying in the official residence of the Taoiseach which is within 5km of the park. Ireland’s current rules were eased in 18 May and also allow gathering in groups of four as long as they stay 2m apart.
A total of 1,608 people have died from coronavirus in Ireland and 24,639 cases have been recorded.
The footage shared on social media shows Mr Varadkar holding a cup and standing close to his partner Mr Barrett, who lives with the Taoiseach.
One of Mr Varadkar’s friends is standing opposite him, while another is crouching on the grass.
From the pictures it is impossible to tell whether or not Mr Varadkar’s friends are more than two metres (6ft) away.
Mr Varadkar has said that social distancing rules remain in force even as Ireland begins to ease the lockdown.
Senior government official Liz Canavan last week urged people not to have picnics or stay outdoors longer than necessary if they are exercising.
‘If you’re visiting a public amenity, try not to stay too long at the site or have picnics. Please do your exercise and then go home,’ she said.
Mr Varadkar’s office told Irish media that he had been in the park with Mr Barrett and two friends ‘in line with public health guidance’.