A sustained rise in Covid case numbers would endanger plans to reopen construction and other parts of society on April 5th, political and public health leaders have said.
The warning comes amid growing concern over rising virus cases, with recent gains at peril following three days where total new cases were about or above 600.
On Friday night, a further 646 cases and 10 deaths were reported.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the hope is still that rules limiting construction, outdoor activities and travel restrictions can be eased next month. However, he told Virgin Media “reopening on April 5th of any sort won’t be possible if we go in the wrong direction in terms of case numbers”.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin told RTÉ: “There is no point in opening up and having to close again.
“We have successfully partially reopened the schools, but we will keep an eye on those numbers and it’s the journey between now and closer to April 5th that will determine the announcement on the 5th in terms of what we can do for April.”
Meanwhile, Prof Philip Nolan, a senior member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) told The Irish Times that a rise in case numbers could lead to fundamental changes to the plan.
“We are at a particular juncture, the disease could go either way. I remain optimistic we can bring it back under control but if we can’t, and if case numbers start to rise again, we’d have to re-evaluate the position entirely.”
Easing restrictions “all depends on the numbers over the next few weeks”, sources told The Irish Times, as experts will be watching carefully the impact of the wider reopening of primary schools this coming Monday.
Hospital admissions, intensive care numbers and the number of deaths were improving, but the daily cases were “a worry as it is not clear that they are still falling”, a Government source said.