Nphet to make recommendations on easing lockdown restrictions to Government today

Nphet to make recommendations on easing lockdown restrictions to Government today

The National Public Health Emergency Team will make its recommendations to Government today.

The Government will be taking a cautious approach to easing lockdown amid fears of triggering another wave of infections, Simon Coveney has said.

The Foreign Affairs Minister expressed hope of some limited relaxations, potentially in relation to outdoor activities and the 5km limit on travel.

Mr Coveney said the Government also wanted to make sure the full return of schools was completed as intended after Easter.

He said he would also like to see an increase in construction activity, but only if public health advice allowed.

The most severe level of restriction, Level 5, is currently in place until April 5, with ministers due to review the measures in the coming week.

The National Public Health Emergency Team will make its recommendations to Government today.

Those will be considered by the Cabinet sub-committee on the pandemic response this evening before a full meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday morning.

Mr Coveney said the Government would only have "very narrow" scope to ease restrictions.

"What we are trying to ensure is that we don't allow a fourth wave of Covid spread to happen between now and when the majority of adults in the country will be will be vaccinated," he told RTÉ Radio One.

"We know that by certainly mid-July the vast majority of people who want to be vaccinated will be.

"So, I think there'll be a lot of caution in government to try to make sure that we don't allow what happened, in particular in January, to happen again between now and the successful rollout of vaccines.

"I think the approach the Government takes tomorrow will be cautious."

Mr Coveney said he understood people would be "frustrated" at the Government's stance.

"They want to get out and about, and they want to get their businesses back up and running," he said.

"What we don't want to do is to allow restrictions to be eased and then to have to reimpose them again."

In regard to potential easements, Mr Coveney said: "I don't think it's any secret that Nphet and indeed the Government recognise that people do need some room to breathe here in the context of the impact that these restrictions have had for so many months now.

"I would expect, but I can't be sure, that we will be looking at the 5km restriction, that we will be looking at outdoor activity, that we will certainly want to facilitate completing the full return to school for all children after the 5th of April."

Mr Coveney said he also hoped for some relaxations to allow more construction activity.

"If it can be done safely, the Government would really like to do that because every week that we aren't building houses we are building up a real pressure point and a problem in terms of housing demand," he said.

"The first priority here has got to be public health and avoiding another wave of this virus.

"Don't forget in the last week to 10 days we've seen numbers actually increase, albeit not dramatically, but certainly the kind of progress that we've been hoping to make in terms of seeing numbers fall day after day has not been happening over the last 10 days.

"So we would certainly like to see some level of construction activity increase after Easter, but again we will be guided by the public health advice on that."

There were 13 further Covid-19-related deaths reported in Ireland on Sunday and another 604 confirmed cases of the virus.

As of Sunday morning, 322 coronavirus patients were in hospital, of whom 66 were in ICU. There were 18 additional hospital admissions in the previous 24 hours.

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