Government sources indicate ‘cautious approach’ will be adopted in review of Level 5 restrictions

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Concerns were raised at Cabinet this afternoon over rising case numbers.

MEMBERS OF GOVERNMENT have indicated that a cautious approach will be adopted when the current Level 5 restrictions are reviewed next week.

Concerns were raised at Cabinet this afternoon that rising case numbers and the spread of the B117 variant across the continent could hinder Ireland’s Covid-19 response if restrictions are eased too quickly.

It follows recent speculation that the 5km travel restriction could be eased or outdoor meetups could be allowed when a decision about the next phase of restrictions is announced on 5 April. 

However, government sources told The Journal that there are worries that a recent plateauing in Covid-19 case numbers could cause hospitalisations to rise.

There have been more than 40 additional hospitalisations due to Covid-19 over the past two days, with 357 people currently in hospital due to the virus – 76 of whom are in intensive care.

Ministers remain hopeful that case numbers may not drastically increase, but expressed caution about the rise in cases across the EU and the possibility that the planned return of secondary schools on 12 April could be jeopardised. 

It is understood that a cautious approach to easing restrictions will therefore be adopted, with any loosening of restrictions to be minimal and possibly on a phased basis across April.

Speaking this afternoon, the Taoiseach said the work of the Irish people has assisted in bringing numbers down, and that the majority of people, in his view, are adhering to the restrictions.

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Micheál Martin said the government was concerned about the flattening of case numbers, but that the vaccination programme was working to reduce mortality among those who had been vaccinated.

He would not speculate on whether any restrictions will be eased next week, stating that the key objective now is to “avoid a fourth wave”.

Contains reporting by Christina Finn.

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