Ireland is likely to learn of the new exit exit plan on Tuesday next week as the Cabinet meets to discuss where the country is heading from here.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin has already told the Irish Mirror in an exclusive interview much of what to expect, while she also gave a new blow to hospitality on Saturday.
The current wait is for Ireland to have a new Living with Covid plan by the middle of next week and it is already very clear what will be there.
Here is everything we know so far;
Two guarantees in the new strategy
Two things that have been made very clear are that there will be no major changes, if any, on March 5, when the closure was initially scheduled to end.
Second, the new plan will see “severe restrictions” until the end of April, with some hope that the country can reopen again in May.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin told Ciara Phelan in the Irish Mirror earlier this week: “What happens next will be modest, I wouldn’t exaggerate it in the sense of ads, and so on.
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“We are looking at the continuation of severe restrictions, no doubt, until April.
“We’re going to take a look at construction, but again, it won’t be a full return to construction, we’ll evaluate what public health advice is.
“No doubt we’ve already indicated that, beyond Easter, we’ll look at it again, but until the end of April you can look at major restrictions and then review it because we’ll have to see where we are.”
Pubs and restaurants closed until mid-summer
Another guarantee, like it or not, is that the hospitality sector will not open until mid-summer at the earliest.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Raidió na Gaeltachta on Saturday, Micheal Martin confirmed that due to the high number of cases and concerns about variants, it would be a long time before he reopened hospitality.
The leader of Fianna Fail said: “” We do not anticipate that (reopening pubs, etc.) before mid-summer … what public health authorities say is that we stay until the end of April, and then reflect about the situation and make decisions about the coming months.
“There will not be a big change (after this phase) because the numbers are still too high … what we intend is to reopen the schools gradually … it will be slow, we will be prudent, because to control the effect on “The biggest challenge we face is new variants, as they could affect vaccines. It’s reasonable to open slowly, because vaccines are coming.”
The remaining questions
While we know that there will be no reopening of hospitality and that there will be no major changes on March 5, there are still many questions.
All of the following will probably become clearer by the middle of next week;
- Will it be level five by the end of April?
- Will the 5km limit be widened slightly to give people more freedom?
- Will construction be allowed to go back?
- At what point does the government expect vaccines to begin to have a significant impact?
- When can people leave their county again? Many have been trapped within 5km of their family for weeks.
- Will this be the last block?
The Taoiseach ad and when will we find out?
The country will be informed of the decision after the Cabinet reaches an agreement on the plan, which is expected to arrive on Thursday at some point.
As usual, Taoiseach Micheal Martin is expected to give his now usual national address where everything will be revealed.
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