Ministers are set to consider a ‘full’ level five lockdown when they meet today.
The unscheduled Cabinet meeting is taking place this afternoon due to the soaring rates of coronavirus in Ireland.
An announcement on the Government’s decision is expected later today.
1,546 new cases were confirmed yesterday – the highest daily rate since the pandemic began.
Hospitalisations are also continuing to climb, with 454 COVID-19 patients in hospitals this morning – with 59 admissions in the last 24 hours.
A phased introduction of level five measures is currently underway – although non-essential retail and gyms are currently allowed remain open.
However, NPHET has recommended the introduction of full level five lockdown measures.
That would see non-essential retail and gyms close, as well as travel limited to five kilometres from your home.
The INTO teachers’ union has called for the reopening of schools to be delayed for at least several days – but Health Minister Stephen Donnelly yesterday said that is not currently under consideration.
However, he said Cabinet is meeting on the back of NPHET advice – and ministers will be looking at whether more changes are required.
Kevin Doyle, group head of news at INM, told Late Breakfast with Mark Cagney that restrictions are expected to be tightened.
He said: “For the moment, on the question of schools… the Government is determined that if everything else has to close they will keep schools open.
“A little bit of equivocation began to come into ministers’ answers in the days before Christmas, as we saw this new (COVID-19) variant and the figures starting to rise quite quickly. Now the line is they will follow public health advice.
“For the moment, it stays as the plan is… but I wouldn’t rule out some change on that before January 6th.”
However, he said the comments from ministers over the past 24 hours make it clear we are now heading for additional restrictions in other areas.
Yesterday saw the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Ireland.
However, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has warned the vaccines “will not positively impact on the profile of this disease in Ireland in the coming weeks”.
To protect yourself & your loved ones please:
1. Stay at home – do not meet up with others
2. Don’t go to work if you have any concerning symptoms – isolate and phone your GP
3. If you are identified as a close contact restrict your movements & get tested when it is offered3/3
— Dr Ronan Glynn (@ronan_glynn) December 29, 2020