The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has now dropped below the numbers in intensive care units at the peak of the third wave.
On Tuesday there were just 179 patients in hospitals with the virus, compared to the 219 in ICU in January.
At that time there were 2,020 patients in hospital in total and Ireland has one of the highest daily case tallies in the world.
Figures from the HSE show that on Monday night, four people with Covid-19 were receiving care at hospitals in Cork and there were no patients with the virus at the critical care units at either Cork University Hospital or the Mercy University Hospital.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said “the strategy is working” ahead of a meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday where they will discuss reopening society.
“That is critical and the people’s adherence to the guidance has really borne fruit in terms of the numbers coming down.” He told reporters: “Covid-19 has upended society and Government is very anxious that we can restore normality to society as soon as it’s safe to do so.
“We’ll be looking at a range of issues, personal services, religious services for example.
“There has been no gatherings for religious worship or funerals, and that’s very difficult for many, many people. We understand that.
“In terms of hospitality, it has suffered more than most over the longest period of this pandemic.
“As I said last month we will be looking at hotels, B&Bs for example, and guest houses for June, and we will look at other other sectors as well.”
The Government will make an announcement next week on reopening plans for May, although it is expected the road map will also include detailed plans for June and July.
The Taoiseach praised public’s efforts in keeping the virus at bay. He said that when businesses begin to reopen, he wants them to stay open.
“It’s all determined by our success in keeping the virus numbers down, keeping the hospitalisations down, and to be fair, the Irish people have responded very well to the strategy really, and it’s working,” he said.
“I think the fact that it is working underpins the importance of what I’ve been saying consistently. That which we reopen now we want to keep open for the future.
“We want to keep pressure of the health system, right into the future as well.”
HSE chief executive Paul Reid has praised the progress the country has made in recent months.
He tweeted: “We’re down to 179 #COVID19 patients in hospital. Now a far lower number of people in total in hospital than we did in ICU alone in January when it was at 219 in ICU & 2,020 in hospital.
“Vaccines are helping. Let’s protect this progress & we’ll get to a much better place.”