New lockdown Until March 5th!
Another 6 weeks of lockdown has been confirmed! Will there be a single small business owner left after this?
The Taoiseach has confirmed that Level Five restrictions will be extended until at least March 5.
Micheal Martin this morning said that while case numbers are "going in the right direction," a longer lockdown is needed to drive down rates of infection.
His comments come as a confirmation of reports that emerged last night after a meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee on Covid-19, when top politicians agreed on a slew of new measures as well as an extended lockdown.
Mr Martin warned that new strains of the virus – particularly the UK variant, which is becoming the dominant version in Ireland – mean people must follow the Covid-19 measures.
"That speaks to the need to adhere as strictly as we possibly can – each of us individually, and collectively – to the guidelines," he told reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting today.
"Those working on the frontline have been truly heroic over the last month – but the hospital numbers are too high, and the number of people in intensive care is too high."
While case numbers are falling, he said, there will still be a significant number of Covid-19 patients in hospital by the end of February.
"That’s the real, clear motivating factor in terms of the measures we’re going to take today – in terms of domestically continuing on the restrictions and seriously restricting travel as well.
"We’re saying to people ‘stay at home’ – that will yield the best results, in the most rapid time."
The Taoiseach's confirmation comes after Leo Varadkar last night argued a zero-Covid approach would not work in Ireland unless it's agree to by politicians in Northern Ireland.
Speaking on RTE's Claire Byrne Live, he said: "The number of cases is coming down, but still nowhere near low enough.
"Our hospitals are in a very difficult position, using surge capacity for ICU and critical care at the moment, so the advice to Cabinet tomorrow is that we should extend Level Five lockdown as it is until March."