Decision on Level 5 to be announced later today - Michael McGrath

ireland
Michael McGrath said schools will remain open.
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Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath has said that we are living in tumultuous times and that the Government will have to respond to the situation of growing Covid numbers.

Today’s unscheduled Cabinet meeting will take advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland and the removal of the amendments to Level 5 will have to be considered, he said.

A decision will be made this afternoon and it will immediately be conveyed to the public, added Mr McGrath.

However, he warned that while the arrival of the vaccine was positive, the last part of the journey could be “the most treacherous".

“We are at a very serious juncture.”

Livelihoods

The Cabinet will have to make a decision this afternoon which will have an impact on livelihoods (in the non-essential retail and leisure sectors), he said and there was deep concern about that, but the first responsibility of Government was to protect its people. The Government’s motivation was to save lives.

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“We have to be prepared to respond.”

Mr McGrath said he did not want to scare people about the ability of the health system to cope with increasing Covid cases. “The best thing all of us can do is to follow the rules and get this under control.

“It is within our gift to get this under control.”

Mr McGrath acknowledged the work of teachers and SNAs, but said that the intention was that schools would reopen next week as planned. The Cabinet would always be guided by public health advice.

These were tumultuous times and the Government would have to respond to the situation as the current rate of infection had far exceeded all predictions, including those by the modelling experts, he said.

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