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Indications that Level 5 restrictions will be extended to February; School reopening may extend to St. Patrick’s Day

DUBLIN: Level five restrictions are expected to extend into February. Taoiseach Micheál Martin at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting announced that the lockdown restrictions would remain in effect for weeks. At the same time, Minister Coveney said that there is no clarity about the opening of schools.

The expected progress in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases has not yet been achieved. This puts constant pressure on all health services. In this case there is no other option but to continue the lock down. The decision is expected to be taken at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Prior to the cabinet meeting, the Cabinet sub-committee on COVID-19 would finalise plans to extend the restrictions.

The situation will be reviewed again by the end of February. However, the economy is not expected to reopen before April. There are still more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases per day. Hospital-ICU admissions are still very high.

As the government seeks to reopen schools, almost all existing public health restrictions will be extended for weeks beyond the end of January. The current consideration is how to make this possible. There is a debate as to whether schools can reopen before St. Patrick’s Day.

Negotiations to reopen special schools will resume next week, Junior education minister Josepha Madigan told a parliamentary party meeting. The plan is to reopen special schools after the unions rejected proposals to reopen other schools. There is constant engagement with the teacher unions. A senior Government source said they needed more assurances.

The government has secretly agreed that bars, restaurants and hotels could reopen in the summer. They add that the hospitality sector will have to close until after Easter. Some hospitality industry believes that wet pubs will remain closed until the autumn. They also rule out this year’s potential for international tourism.

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