The chief executive of the HSE is anticipating hybrid working practices, with some workers returning to the workplace and others continuing to work from home.
Paul Reid told Newstalk Breakfast that he would like to see a return to life as it was in 2019, if it could be done in a safe way, as it would be good for mental health.
It comes after the Taoiseach said workers could return to offices as soon as August.
Mr Reid said he believes a hybrid working model – with some returning to the office and others working from home – was what would emerge and that would be the best option “for a while.”
It had been a really tough year, he said, so it was important to see that progress was being made.
Shift in cases
More people were being vaccinated and there were reduced case numbers, Mr Reid said.
There was also a shift in the age profile of cases, with the majority now in the under-40 age cohort. Only seven per cent were aged over 55, with only two per cent aged over 65, he said.
There were still concerns about variants, Mr Reid added, especially in the UK where if there was a fourth wave it would have an impact on Ireland.
Mr Reid said the HSE’s focus would continue to be on three aspects – the vaccination programme, testing and tracing, and public health measures.
The majority of people were adhering to public health measures, but there was always a risk and the numbers could change very quickly as had happened in Limerick.
“We need to be on our guard,” he added.
It comes after Taoiseach Micheál Martin suggested that the easing of Covid-19 restrictions could be accelerated if progress is maintained.
This could include a “blended” return of workers to offices in August, rather than September, as suggested by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
Mr Martin said we will know by the end of the month if the lifting of restrictions can be brought forward.
“I think we will see towards the end of this month, given the progress we have made to date, whether we can move forward on some areas like that”, he told reporters on Tuesday evening.