A widespread re-opening of the economy is not expected “in the immediate future”, the Minister for Public Expenditure has said.
The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 will meet next Monday and will receive a briefing on the public health situation from NPHET and the HSE.
Following this, the Cabinet will meet again on Tuesday when they are expected to make a decision on the current restrictions, which were initially introduced until the end of January.
However, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath TD has said that he does not expect a widespread re-opening.
“I do not expect there will be a widespread re-opening of the economy in the immediate future," he said.
Minister McGrath also said that until a decision is made next week, it is “important that we set realistic expectations for the public and the business community”.
“As a community, we need to double down on the measures that have worked previously and we know will work again. The best thing we can do to help our frontline healthcare staff is to push the virus numbers down and stem the flow of new admissions to hospital,” he added.
Cork GP Dr John Sheehan has also said that he does not expect restrictions to be lifted until the daily Covid-19 case figures reduce significantly.
“I think we need to get to the low hundreds before things with open up because our hospitals are at full stretch, our ICUs are at full stretch.
“It’s very, very hard on people but particularly at this stage where we’re at the cusp of rolling out the vaccine…I think there is a strong argument for extending restrictions for another few weeks- really until the numbers go down further."
Dr Sheehan noted the impact the UK variant of the virus has had on infection rate in Ireland and said that we need “at least another two to three weeks” of restrictions.
“The UK strain has made it probably easier for it to spread and certainly, we’re seeing that in practice where one family member has it and then other family members getting it so it’s very, very hard to see the restrictions being eased when the numbers are that high."
“I think what’s delaying it is the UK strain which is the dominant strain now because that’s easier to spread, it’s slowing the progress of the numbers coming down,” added Dr Sheehan.