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There will be no significant easing of Level 5 restrictions; merchants and public in despair

DUBLIN: With the current level five restrictions set to expire on April 5, the NPHET meeting scheduled for today has been postponed for next Monday, indicating that there will be no significant easing.

It is learned that the government is considering five major changes in COVID-19 restrictions. Senior government source have indicated that personal services such as hairdressers and hospitality will not be allowed to operate.

The following changes are being considered: lifting the five-kilometer travel limit, expanding outdoor gatherings, phased reintroduction of construction, sports and training for children, and non-contact sports such as golf and tennis for adults.

Confirming this, Leo Varadkar said that the Taoiseach will make an announcement in this regard. He added that these priorities would change if the number of patients did not decrease. There are also hints that personal services such as hairdressers may not be open until mid-summer.

A spokesman for the LVA (Licensed Vintners Association) said that they are extremely disappointed with the Government’s new decision.

“People across hospitality and other sectors are desperate for some semblance of hope. A lack of information such as the absence of a broad roadmap for reopening has the opposite effect. It undermines hope. It also damages the prospects of people remaining in the various sectors who will be closed for an ongoing, unspecified period,” the spokesman said.

Taoiseach

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has made it clear that no decision has yet been taken on easing the COVID restrictions. The Taoiseach made the remarks following the postponement of the NPHET meeting scheduled for today to next week. The current level five restrictions will end on April 5th.

The NPHET is scheduled to meet today to decide whether certain restrictions could be lifted. The meeting was adjourned to analyze further data before advising the government. A decision on changing the existing regulations will be taken at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “The situation in relation to the virus is very fragile. We have, in the last seven days, 3,800 cases,” he said.

“The Level 5 restrictions have worked effectively to bring numbers down very, very significantly from where they were. But the numbers are still high in one way too, and the fundamental reason for that is we’re dealing with a variant that is highly transmissible and more dangerous.

“No decision has been made in relation to the post-April 5th situation. We’ve been engaging with public health advice and research in relation to this.

“We do acknowledge the enormous stress and strain and difficulties the current lockdown is imposing on people, in terms of personal restrictions, on their freedom and their liberties and not meeting up with others. We do not want to go back to a situation where we have 2,000 people in hospital,” the Taoiseach added.

Sinn Féin with harsh criticism

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said people were “fed up and angry” with the Level 5 restrictions that had been in place for three months.

There are still thousands of people who can’t go to work this year. “Many haven’t seen family or friends in months, and small businesses are either closing or will struggle to survive,” Ms McDonald said.

“We’re now approaching April 5th, the date that the public had hoped would bring some relief to restrictions, and yet people are still waiting to hear the Government’s plan as to what lies ahead,” she added.

“Indeed, instead of clear communication and strong leadership, what we have had throughout this crisis is mixed messages and kite-flying.” She also criticized that the mandatory quarantine law would not last long.

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