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Dublin: 1°C Saturday 23 January 2021

Harris hopes for 'slight easing' of restrictions on 5 May

The plan will outline the phases of lifting restrictions.

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON HARRIS has said he’s hoping for some “slight easing” of “one or two” of the restrictions on 5 May.

A roadmap to how the restrictions will be lifted will also be published by then, and will set out, in phases, how Ireland will reopen, said the minister.

It is understood there could be as many as four stages, with two-three weeks between each phase.

In recent days, there has been much speculation about what industries will reopen first, when schools will reopen and if older people will be able to leave their homes.

Harris warned today that on 5 May there won’t be a “big bang moment” where the restrictions are lifted, instead stating that it is harder to re-open the country than to shut it down.

Speaking at the Department of Health today, Harris said he spoke to the Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan this morning and was told that if today was the day he was making the decision on what to do next he would still be advising against changing the restrictions.

“That’s a sobering and tough message, I know, because we’re all living in hope,” Harris said, adding:

“We have seen other countries where they’ve quite quickly lifted measures to only have to very quickly re-impose them.

“I get the sense, and maybe I’m wrong, people don’t want us to do anything that’s going to risk their health or their families. And people are so afraid. They know the economy’s important. But they know nothing is more important than life. And they don’t want us to do anything that will put them or their loved ones at risk,” he said.

He said people also want to know that in the background there is a plan being prepared on how to begin the process of reopening the country when it is safe to do so. 

“It’s going to be very complex… there isn’t a manual, and we can look at what other countries have done, but every country is a little bit different in terms of the scale of its pandemic.”

The minister also addressed the issue of nursing home supports and the ramping up of testing at the press conference today.

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