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Construction could be one of the sectors to reopen next month. Sasko Lazarov
level 5

Level 5 lockdown to be reviewed next week, but government expected to extend restrictions to late February

Government sources state that it is still their intention to get schools reopened in February.

LAST UPDATE | 20 Jan 2021

CABINET WILL MEET next week to review the current Level 5 restrictions, which are likely to be extended to late February.

While the Taoiseach previously said the government would review the restrictions on 31 January, a spokesperson confirmed yesterday that this would be done now on Tuesday. 

Any decisions to ease some of the measures are expected to have a few days lead in time. 

The extension to the shutdown measures comes as little surprise, with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stating before Christmas that although the decisions would be reviewed in mid-January, people could expect the lockdown to last until early March.

Government sources state that it is still their intention to get schools reopened in February, however it is all very much dependent on the case numbers. 

The momentum towards all students getting back to the classroom has been damaged with the delay in reopening schools for children with special needs. 

If secondary Leaving Cert students do not get back to school next month, there are concerns within government about the commencement of the exams. There are also concerns about calculated grades being an option, with many students not having completed mock exams, and done limited project work, as well as having missed out on months of class time.

Construction sites are also tipped to reopen next month.

Housing Minister Daragh O’Brien has previously said construction workers are essential workers, however, sites, other than those building social housing and exempted projects, had to close this month. 

With case numbers and positivity rates coming down, those in government circles are optimistic, but they state that hospitals will need weeks to recover from the spike. 

Hospitality is not expected to reopen until after the Spring, and the 5km restrictions are also likely to stay in place after next week’s meeting, it is understood. 

At tonight’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, Deputy Leader Simon Coveney said the current health restrictions will remain for future weeks.

Coveney said the issue would be discussed at a Cabinet sub committee meeting next week and then at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

He said the vast majority of restrictions will be maintained well into February.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said the current restrictions are working and the rapid increase of Covid in communities has stopped.

The meeting heard if the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved by the EMA (European Medicines Agency) on 29 January or before, it will change the pace of the vaccine administration here.

Regarding the return of special needs classes, Fine Gael members heard it has been a difficult week to date and the Education Department is doing everything it can to facilitate the return of classes.

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