Minister John Halligan has said there is a “case for discussion” in easing lockdown laws on a regional basis across Ireland.
Mr Halligan said that infection rates are low in counties such as Waterford, which has around 160 coronavirus cases.
He said there is a “case to be made” in easing restrictions in various counties, adding that Dublin has some of the highest infection rates.
Speaking at Government Buildings, he said: “First of all, I think that the decision will be made essentially by the health authority dealing with this with, probably, advice from politicians.
“I was making the point that half the cases are in Dublin, regrettably.
“If you look at the University Hospital Waterford, we have seven in hospital, two in intensive and about 160 cases.
“So there’s a case for that discussion to take place, I’m not a medical expert so I wouldn’t dare say that’s what we should do.
“But I think there is a case for that discussion as it is being discussed in other countries around the world on a regional basis as to how severe it is and are we likely to get a spike.
“I think we should look at that because I am only relating what business people are saying to me.
“We have ordinary everyday people saying, ‘Look, we don’t have a spike here, it’s not as severe, so why are we facing the same lockdown?’
“Now, you could also say we’re all in this together, and we are all in this together as Irishmen and Irishwomen, and our children and so on.
“But I think it is something that may have to be looked at if this was to go on for longer than expected, but again I am not asking politicians to make that decision.”
Meanwhile, Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland, said that developing a Covid-19 vaccine is “very difficult”.
He said that while there are more than 80 vaccines under development around the world, it could take up to 18 months to have one ready.
Dr Ferguson said: “It’s difficult because a vaccine must be very safe. A vaccine is a product that you give to healthy people to prevent them from getting a disease.
“Therefore, if that vaccine has any side effects, it is not going to be registered.
“The good news is there’s an awful lot of effort, I think it would be wrong to say this is an easy thing to do. It’s not an easy thing to do and it may or may not happen.
“If it doesn’t happen, then we need to be prepared for that.”