Ireland is living under one of the harshest coronavirus lockdowns in the world, according to an ongoing analysis from Oxford University.
The country's Level 5 restrictions are tougher than those in every other country in the European Union, with the Republic near the top of a global ‘stringency index’ developed by the university's Blavatnik School of Government.
The index has recorded the strictness of lockdown-style policies in more than 180 countries since the pandemic began.
Each country is scored from one to 100 – with 100 being the most stringent – taking into account workplace and school closures, restrictions on public gatherings, travel bans and stay-at-home rules.
Ireland now has a score of 85.19. This is down from a high of 87.96 earlier in February, before in-person classes resumed in special education schools.
Ireland's approach is so strict that only five other countries are now recording a higher score – Eritrea (88.89), Venezuela (87.96), the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe and Peru (all 86.11).
Eritrea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe are listed as authoritarian regimes in the Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The UK and Peru are among the countries with highest Covid-19 death tolls.
As of February 24th, Germany has a score of 83.33, followed by Italy with 82.41, Cyprus on 80.56 and France with 63.89.
The countries with the most lenient lockdown rules are Somalia (2.78), Nicaragua (8.33), and Tanzania (8.33).
Junior and senior infants, as well as first and second class in primary schools, will be among the first back to school.
Leaving Certificate students are also to return to the classroom next week.
The reopening of childcare starts from March 8th as well as the resumption of some non-Covid related health services.
The Taoiseach said the situation will be reviewed ahead of April 5th.