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Monday 2 October 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# new roadmap
Micheál Martin announces the new 'Living with Covid' roadmap on Tuesday - here's what to expect
The detailed plan is expected to set out how we’ll proceed over the winter and into next spring.

THE GOVERNMENT’S NEW roadmap for ‘Living with Covid’ will include a colour-coded, five-level system to indicate what public health measures are in place in different areas of the country at any given time. 

The long-mooted plan – set to replace the original roadmap set out by Leo Varadkar on 1 May – will be announced by Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday. 

Martin has said that as we are now moving “into a second phase” of the pandemic we must have a plan for how to live with the virus for the next six months.

The plan, it’s been promised, will be “all-encompassing” and will set out clearly the restrictions that will apply at each colour-coded level for social gatherings, sport, travel, entertainment, and work.

It’s envisaged that different areas around the country could have different colours or levels on any given day depending on instances of Covid-19. 

Level One will be the lowest while Level Five will be the most serious – which would possibly see lockdown measures akin to those at the start of the pandemic being reimposed. Level Four would be similar to the recent restrictions implemented in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

A number of ministers have stated that localised restrictions are the way forward from now on in order to get the country back on its feet, and for a degree of normality to be returned to peoples’ lives.

The plan, which has been formulated with the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), will also outline clear criteria setting out when localised restrictions could be implemented.

Restrictions could be imposed depending on various factors – but the key criteria will be the amount of new cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period, rather than daily cases.

Hospital numbers, ICU cases and the number of deaths recorded will also be key metrics.

Next week’s plan will offer a framework with “simple messaging”, the Taoiseach has said.

Government ministers say it is important the plan is honest and transparent and draws a line under the mixed-messaging of recent weeks.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath has said the current restrictions and guidance related to Covid-19 remains in place until the government publishes the medium-term plan on Tuesday. 

The measures announced last month had originally been due to expire tomorrow. 


Reopening international travel will form a key part of the plan with the Government likely to opt into the European Commission’s new system of colour-coded countries and regions.

That proposal would see zones classified as green, amber or red based on Covid-19 rates.

Travellers returning from green countries would not have to quarantine. The Taoiseach has already confirmed that the country’s Green List will not be updated and a new scheme for travel will be included in the new plan.

The Department of Foreign Affairs currently advises against non-essential travel overseas. However, travel to a very limited set of locations – named on that Green list – is exempted from this advice.

Individuals arriving into Ireland from Green List countries do not have to restrict their movements upon entry into the country.

The Tánaiste has said that the Irish government would like for people to be able to travel abroad to visit loved ones for Christmas.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has already confirmed that randomised testing is to be rolled out as part of a suite of measures at the airports.

“It is not our objective to test 30%, 40% or 50%. It is not a mass testing measure. It is part of one of the measures that we are bringing in,” he said.

Reopening pubs 

The plan will also outline that pubs can reopen on 21 September, but with restrictions in place. Pubs in some areas, perhaps in Dublin and Limerick, where cases are high, may be required to stay closed for longer. 

Arts Minister Catherine Martin said this week that live performances and singing will be allowed in pubs when they reopen. 

In terms of sports, it is understood that more spectators will be allowed to attend matches. There has been many criticisms about the numbers permitted to attend games, but it is believed a few hundred people will be allowed to attend sporting events under the new plan.

The plan will also outline how the arts will function over the next few months, with an increase in attendees allowed to attend theatres and concerts.

Dublin and Limerick

The other big announcement that is due on Tuesday is whether restrictions will be imposed on Dublin and Limerick. 

Restrictions on visits to households in Dublin were a key recommendation from NPHET to the government during the week.

It follows a spike of Covid-19 cases in the capital. Public health officials have recommended to Government that only six people, from two other households, instead of three other households will be allowed visit a home at any one time, understands.

The Government has said that recommendations will not be announced until next week, with ministers warning that any restrictions in Dublin must be justified if they are more drastic than those in place in other European capitals.

It’s up to the Government to decide to agree to NPHET’s recommendations, or to make additional recommendations. 

If accepted by the Cabinet on Tuesday afternoon, the measures would be introduced for three weeks in Dublin.

The government is keen to get the messaging around the plan and new measures clear this time, after being slammed this week by opposition TDs for the handling of recent announcements. 

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