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Taoiseach lists criteria for easing restrictions but warns progress will be slow

Leo Varadkar said any easing of the lockdown will be ‘slow and gradual’.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking to media as he visited the Covid-19 Community Assessment Hub in DCU Collins Avenue (Handout/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking to media as he visited the Covid-19 Community Assessment Hub in DCU Collins Avenue (Handout/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking to media as he visited the Covid-19 Community Assessment Hub in DCU Collins Avenue (Handout/PA)

The Taoiseach  has identified five criteria for future decision making on lifting or easing Covid-19 restrictions as he warned progress would be slow and gradual.

Speaking in the Dail on Wednesday, Leo Varadkar said a roadmap would be published in the coming days on lifting or easing restrictions.

He said the five criteria include: progress of disease; healthcare capacity and resilience; testing and contact tracing capacity; ability to shield at risk groups; and risk of secondary morbidity.

The Taoiseach said: “A plan is being developed to ease the lockdown and a roadmap to re-open Ireland.

“Unfortunately for those who would like an immediate return to pre-Covid-19 levels – it will be slow and gradual.

“It will be done in a step-wise, tiered manner and will require continuous efforts to try and suppress the virus.

“I know the lockdown is difficult and people feel cooped up and are feeling frustrated and trapped.

“We must keep doing what we are doing because it is working.

“We owe it those who fight the virus every day and we owe it to the memory of those who have lost their lives and as a country we owe it to each other.”

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Chief medical officer Tony Holohan (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

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Chief medical officer Tony Holohan (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Mr Varadkar described the deaths in nursing homes and residential settings as “a tapestry of sorrow, suffering and loss for a nation”.

“As always we are grateful to our nurses, doctors and healthcare staff who are giving their all to save lives and bring us through the worst of this emergency.

“As a country we owe them so much and when this is over would like to take the opportunity to thank them properly.”

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald speaking at Government building in Dublin (Aine McMahon/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald speaking at Government building in Dublin (Aine McMahon/PA)

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald speaking at Government building in Dublin (Aine McMahon/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was unfair for some members of the Government to hold up May 5 as a “red letter day” when restrictions could lift.

She said: “It has been most unhelpful that members have engaged in thinking out loud and kite flying and giving the impression that May 5 would be a red letter day and we would all be liberated from these restrictions.

“That caused confusion, it was unfair and I think it was doubly unfair to have done that and then go and criticise complacency among the public.”

On Wednesday night, chief medical officer Tony Holohan gave his strongest indication yet that Covid-19 restrictions will not be lifted on May 5.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is due to issue advice on restrictions to Government on Friday.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said there is “widespread unease” about the manner in which some decisions around Ireland’s handling of Covid-19.

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Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

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Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

“No one expects a perfect response and everyone understand the pressures key parts of the civil service are working under.

“However critical discussions have to be more systematically opened up to inclusive participation.

“There is simply, a wish to be told in direct terms what the triggers are for certain key policy decisions as we see in other countries.”

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