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Level Five restrictions to continue until April 5, Cabinet agrees

A phased reopening of schools and childcare will be a feature of the Taoiseach’s revised Living With Covid plan.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (PA)

Level Five restrictions are set to continue in Ireland until April 5 at least, the Cabinet has agreed.

A Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to sign off on the country’s path forward through the pandemic has now finished.

The Taoiseach is to make a live address to the country to unveil details the Government’s revised Living With Covid plan.

Sources have confirmed to the PA news agency that Level Five measures will remain in place until after Easter.

However, there is cautious optimism that a wider reopening will be possible at that point.

“It will be a different story.

“The vaccine rollout will be ramped up significantly, we’ll have better weather then.

“There will be better options,” a Cabinet source said.

As expected, the plan will include the phased reopening of schools and childcare, with some school pupils set to return to the classroom on March 1.

Junior and senior infants as well as first and second class in primary schools will be among the first back to school.

Leaving Certificate students are also expected to return to the classroom next week.

In a live address at 6pm, Micheal Martin will also give an update on the vaccination priority list, with a few changes expected to be made.

However, opposition parties criticised the Government’s messaging to the public about the plans to ease out of lockdown.

Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane said there was a lot of “anger and frustration” among the public.

“We’re picking that up from people who are very upset and angry over the Government’s handling of this over the last number of weeks,” Mr Cullinane added.

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A locked gate at a primary school on the north side of Dublin (PA)

A locked gate at a primary school on the north side of Dublin (PA)

PA

A locked gate at a primary school on the north side of Dublin (PA)

“The mixed messages, the contradictions from Government ministers, the leaks and all of these issues.

“There’s no sense of any real leadership, no sense of a cohesive plan.

“All of this is in the context of people who are making very big sacrifices, people who are abiding by the public health guidelines.

“They’re obviously very tough on individuals, on families and on businesses.

“People want to play their part to bring the numbers down and they turn to Government then, to ensure that the Government’s responses are appropriate.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said there had been a “shambolic handling” of proposals to reopen schools, describing them as “dangerously defective”.

He said the plans threatened to undermine the effort made during lockdown.

Meanwhile, official disease modeller Professor Philip Nolan said that, while progress in reducing Covid-19 cases had slowed, the country was still making progress.

“Cases last week down 8% on the week before, under 700 in hospital this morning,” he tweeted.

“Importantly the number of symptomatic cases is falling, while we see more asymptomatic and contacts.

“It’s really hard, but we have to keep going.”

PA


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