April 5th possible date for easing of restrictions under new ‘Living with Covid’ plan

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin will announce an extension of the present lockdown for at least a month on Tuesday, once the Cabinet approves the updated plan for “living with Covid”.

Restrictions will be extended to April 5th, when there will be a review looking at the potential for easing the measures.

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As The Irish Times reports, despite hopes that certain social and economic activities could face some limited relaxations, sources said on Monday night that the high levels of disease and the priority of resuming education would likely limit room for manoeuvre elsewhere.

Thousands of students who attend special classes in mainstream primary and secondary schools returned to the classroom on Monday for the first time since before Christmas.

A further 330,000 students will go back to school next week when some primary school pupils, as well as Leaving Cert students return. It is expected students will return in two groups on March 1st and 15th.

Junior and senior infants, first and second class will return on March 1st along with Leaving Cert students. Other primary school classes and fifth years will return on March 15th. Remaining secondary school students will not come back until after the Easter holidays in mid-April.

Phased return

There will be a phased return of childcare, beginning with the resumption of the State’s Early Childhood Care and Education scheme on March 8th.

However, the construction sector will likely remain substantially closed aside from current exemptions, despite a last-minute push to allow work on private individual house completions.

Meanwhile, the Government is likely to back away from plans to allow some easing of outdoor restrictions, including non-contact training and socially distanced meetings.

Until last week, Ministers were actively discussing the limited resumption of such activity from early April.

Despite strong arguments being made in favour of people’s mental health, continuing high case numbers and pressure on hospitals led to the move being jettisoned, and it is unlikely to be considered until after Easter.

Each step in the reopening plan will be followed by a break to assess the impact of resuming activities, while the new plan is unlikely to outline any “triggers” or specific dates for relaxing restrictions beyond those outlined for the resumption of schools.

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