Cabinet Agrees To Extend Lockdown Until April 5th

Taoiseach Micheal Martin during a joint press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin

Taoiseach Micheal Martin during a joint press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin

As part of the Government's revised Living with Covid-19 plan for 2021, Martin announced two new phases - before and after April 5.

Noting the emergence of the so-called United Kingdom, or B-117 variant, the Taoiseach said the country is in a very different place from where it was just a few months ago.

Calling the country's vaccination programme "unprecedented", the Taoiseach said: "By the end of March, we will have administered 1.25 million doses".

Childcare services are set to reopen starting with the ECCE scheme on March 8th. Over 350,000 vaccine doses have already been administered. Junior and Senior infants, First and Second class to return to in-school education.

Martin added that 82% of Irish adults should have their first dose of the vaccine by June. That is why I can not over emphasise the importance of continued observance of Level 5 restrictions.

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

From 29 March, subject to public health advice, other restrictions will be lifted so that all other children can return to early learning and childcare services.

The situation will be reviewed ahead of April 5th.

Mr Martin said Ireland is "driving down the levels of infection", but said the emergence of the United Kingdom variant had made the situation very different to what it was several months ago.

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"The truth is that it has changed the dynamic significantly and we need to be very careful as we take the next steps forward", he said.

Staggered start of easing of other areas of restriction with a focus on outdoor activities including sport and some areas of construction.

Mr Martin said it is "critically important" that people do not let their guard down.

In his address Mr Martin said the Government is anxious to ensure that things remain open whenever restrictions are eased.

In a televised address this Tuesday evening, he said the Government hopes to be in a position to review, and possibly ease, some of the restrictions on social gatherings, business and travel after Easter.

For now, we're being told to continue working from home where possible.

The Taoiseach said it would be "disingenuous" to give specific timelines for the wider reopening of society.

He also referred to the United Kingdom variant of Covid as "a new virus, almost", and blamed it for the position we are now in. Then, depending on vaccines arriving as scheduled, we will administer on average more than 1 million doses per month during April, May, and June.

575 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in Ireland today with 45 more deaths.

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