| 19.3°C Belfast

Health Minister: Sudden departure from current restrictions is unlikely

Officials are meeting to discuss restrictions but will not make a final call until Friday.

Close

NPHET is meeting on Tuesday to discuss restrictions but will not make a final call until Friday (Niall Carson/PA)

NPHET is meeting on Tuesday to discuss restrictions but will not make a final call until Friday (Niall Carson/PA)

NPHET is meeting on Tuesday to discuss restrictions but will not make a final call until Friday (Niall Carson/PA)

The Health Minister has said a sudden departure from the current coronavirus restrictions when they are due to expire on Easter Sunday is unlikely.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has yet to make a formal recommendation to extend the measures but Simon Harris said the measures are working and need to stay in place.

NPHET is meeting on Tuesday to discuss restrictions but will not make a final call until Friday.

Close

(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Speaking in Dublin on Tuesday, he said: “We’ll get the formal advice later in the week but I believe in being truthful and honest with people in this regard.

“I think that any kind of sudden departure from the existing restrictions is highly unlikely, particularly when we know they’re working.”

“We are not going to do anything as a government that will in any way jeopardise the lives and wellbeing of Irish people. We have got to stay the course.”

More than 850,000 people are claiming unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus crisis which has left many business struggling across Ireland.

Close

(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Figures shows hundreds of thousands of people are receiving the new Covid-19 pandemic unemployment benefit as well as those who are registered for the wage subsidy scheme.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney said that the country is facing extraordinary challenges.

“I think it’s clear that the aftermath of Covid-19, Ireland post-crisis will be a different place,” Mr Coveney said.

“The role of community will be different, the role of the State in terms of its relationship with the private sector will be different.

“Nobody should fool themselves that actually recovering from this is going to be easy.

“There are 730,000 people today without a job.

“There’s 130,000 people today with the State paying 70% of their wages and all of that has happened in the space of about three weeks.

���We have never faced anything like this as a country before, so it’s not going to be easy.

“We have to find a way of rebuilding an economy, doing that in a way that doesn’t isolate people or disadvantaged people because of their circumstance, we have to make sure that the rising tide that will start later on in the summer, I suspect, will lift all boats and that won’t be easy.”

Mr Coveney also said the Department of Foreign Affairs has helped some 4,600 Irish citizens return home.

The department has assisted just under 500 Irish citizens home on rescue flights or charter flights that were organised by other EU member States or by the UK.

“We will continue to work with Irish people right across the world,” he told RTE’s Sean O’Rourke show.

“Our call centre has taken over 16,000 calls. The aviation industry has been turned on its head.”

The Tanaiste also said not every Irish citizen who wants to come home will be able to do so, but added that his department will work with them to try and arrange a flight.

He said a lot of Irish citizens remain in Australia and New Zealand.

It comes as the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will meet to discuss childcare provisions for healthcare workers on Tuesday.

Creches and schools were closed last month, leaving many healthcare workers with no childcare.

On Monday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government is working on childcare for healthcare workers during the emergency, but it needs to be cleared by the NPHET.

“There are essential workers in the economy and in the health service who are struggling and want to get to work but can’t because childcare is not available to them.

“While we are ready to push the button in terms of providing childcare for essential workers, we need clearance from the public health team, and that it in itself does not become a public health risk or allow the virus to be spread.”

The coronavirus death toll in Ireland is 174, with 16 further deaths reported on Monday.

There were 370 new confirmed cases, taking the overall total to 5,364.

Government ministers will also be briefed on the latest developments on Covid-19 at a Cabinet meeting, and whether restrictions can be lifted.

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan said a formal recommendation will not be made until Friday.

PA