Taoiseach Micheal Martin warns of 'very cautious' exit from Level 5 and says no confusion in Government message

Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed today that the Government is taking a “very cautious” approach to easing Level 5 restrictions over the...

Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed today that the Government is taking a “very cautious” approach to easing Level 5 restrictions over the coming months.

In an exclusive interview with the Irish Mirror, Mr Martin had said there would be “severe” and “significant” restrictions until the end of April, nine weeks away.

But speaking today, he said “nothing is set in stone” regarding how long the restrictions will remain in place.

He would not confirm or deny an extension of Level 5 and dismissed that there was any confusion.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar took to the airwaves yesterday in an attempt to dismiss the Irish Mirror’s story.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

But the Taoiseach later confirmed: “There’s going to be no large-scale reopening of society. And from the next number of weeks and over the next period there won’t be a significant reopening.”

The government is to announce a revised Living with Covid plan next week and when asked what people could expect, Mr Martin first said on Thursday “we are looking at a continuation of severe restrictions, certainly right into April.”

When pushed on the month of April, he added: “We’ve already certainly indicated that beyond Easter we’ll look at it again but until the end of April you can look at significant restrictions and we’ll review it after that then because we’ll have to see where we are.”

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr Martin moved to downplay his comments and said a nine week extension of severe restrictions was not “set in stone.”

He said that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has given advice to the Cabinet sub-committee and urged caution in reopening society and the economy.

“The emphasis on the prioritisation right now is on schools, particularly the early years and then the Leaving Certificate cohort
and childcare,” Mr Martin said.

“We will review it on a monthly basis and the vaccine rollout may have an impact. We are beginning to see a reduction in the number of healthcare workers getting the virus and the outbreaks are coming down.

“The authorities are saying there is evidence of the impact of the vaccination programme already, in terms it is reducing mortality.”

He said he has previously warned of plans that it is pursuing a prolonged suppression of the virus in a bid to get numbers down.

“NPHET’s advice is that they are somewhat concerned that the decline is slowing down,” Mr Martin added.

“People of Ireland have been remarkable in their adherence to the guidance.

18/02/2021 Taosieach Micheal Martin TD at Government Buildings, dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

“NPHET are saying they want to monitor each step. For example, when we open schools in a fortnight, they want to evaluate what impact did that have on the R number and the spread of disease.

“That analysis will inform the next step, so Nphet is saying to us, that beyond a certain time frame they don’t want to predict that.”

Around 90% of Covid-19 cases in Ireland are associated with the B117 variant.

The HSE has also wanted that it is having severe effects on hospital patients.

Mr Martin also said there will be no large-scale reopening of construction.

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Newsrust: Taoiseach Micheal Martin warns of 'very cautious' exit from Level 5 and says no confusion in Government message
Taoiseach Micheal Martin warns of 'very cautious' exit from Level 5 and says no confusion in Government message
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