Ireland’s prime minister Micheal Martin has confirmed the country will continue at the highest level of coronavirus restrictions until at least 5 April.
The Taoiseach said there will be a difference in the current Level 5 restrictions, with the phased reopening of schools from 1 March.
The government’s revised Living With COVID plan will also see the reopening of childcare start from 8 March and some non-COVID related health services will also resume.
Mr Martin said the situation will be reviewed on 5 April.
He said Ireland is “driving down the levels of infection”, but the emergence of the UK variant has made the situation very different to what it was several months ago.
The B117 variant – or the “Kent variant” – now accounts for 90% of new infections in Ireland, the Irish PM said.
“The truth is that it has changed the dynamic significantly and we need to be very careful as we take the next steps forward,” he added.
Mr Martin said it is “critically important” that people do not let their guard down.
“When we open things, we want them to stay open, that is why I cannot overemphasise the importance of continued observance of Level 5 restrictions.”
All those working from home have been told they must continue to do so.
“We want to reopen society as soon and as safely as possible, so if we can maintain downward pressure on the disease and keep our numbers low we will then move into the next phase,” he said.
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