Living with Covid-19: Everything we know about the Government’s new plan

ireland
Senior members of Government are meeting this evening to approve the revised plan. Photo: PA Images.
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Senior members of Government met Monday evening to approve a revised “Living with Covid-19” plan.

The plan will be publicly announced Tuesday afternoon, following its approval earlier in the day by a full meeting of the Cabinet.

Here is everything we know about it so far — subject to its approval.

Strategy

The Government appears set to stick with its current strategy of living with Covid-19, rather than adopting a "zero Covid" strategy recently advocated by a number of politicians and health experts.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have both rejected the strategy a number of times, insisting it would not work due to the State's shared border with Northern Ireland.

The Irish Times reports that the revised plan is essentially a “development” of, rather than “radical departure” from current plans.

It is not expected to repeat the roadmap out of lockdown seen last summer, when dates were associated with the return of different activities and sectors.

Lockdown restrictions

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The revised plan is expected to extend current Level 5 lockdown restrictions into April, when another review will take place.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has indicated that significant restrictions will continue past March 5th — the current date they are set to elapse.

Nphet has advised that current restrictions should be extended beyond the current cut-off date, with the opening of schools and childcare happening on a “cautious and phased basis”.

Schools

Classroom returns will begin on a phased basis in March, it has been indicated.

By March 1st, it is expected that junior and senior infants, first and second class students will return at primary school level. At secondary school level, it is expected that Leaving Certificate students will return.

By March 15th, it is expected that other primary school students and fifth year students at secondary school level will return.

By April 12th, remaining secondary school students are expected to return following the Easter holidays.

Gatherings

Although no decisions have yet been reached, there may be some easing of restrictions surrounding meeting in parks and other outdoor settings. This may be a potential concession made by Government, on the understanding that such meetings are already taking place.

It is considered unlikely that socialising in private gardens will be permitted.

Outdoor sports are also not expected to be permitted during any immediate review of restrictions.

Retail and business

A reopening of sectors such as non-essential retail or personal services such as hairdressing is not under consideration.

Though a reopening of the construction sector on March 5th was originally indicated, it is now also considered unlikely.

Travel restrictions

Any relaxing of the five-kilometre limit on non-essential travel is considered unlikely before restrictions are reviewed again in April.

An update on the implementation of mandatory quarantines in designated hotels for travellers from “high-risk” countries is expected, after the Minister for Justice said hotels could be operationalised in three to four weeks if necessary legislation is passed.

Vaccination

The Government is expected to announce changes to the State’s vaccine rollout schedule, with people suffering from respiratory illnesses likely to be offered earlier vaccination.

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