THE IRISH Government will be announcing details of the country's exit from full lockdown in the coming days, with an official announcement due next week.
The Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Businesses Damien English said that plans will be announced when it was appropriate, once the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and other experts have had time to analyse data from the first four weeks of Level Five restrictions.
Ireland is set to exit lockdown on December 1, and it's expected that the country will drop to Level Three of the 'Living with Covid Plan', before an eventual move to Level Two in time for Christmas.
But health experts and Government officials have been clear that this plan is far from set in stone, and that ultimately the number of cases of coronavirus will determine just how Ireland operates over the coming weeks.
Minister English said that he understood the importance of opening the country back up as early as possible in order to help businesses, particularly in the crucial run-up to Christmas.
Speaking to RTE Radio One on Wednesday, he said: "Of course the plans is to open as soon as we can," before admitting that shops could be granted extended opening hours in order to facilitate a more prosperous festive period.
Mr English said it was the Government's "full intention" to open the retail sector up again, but reiterated that until an official plan was laid out, likely to happen towards the end of next week, nothing was certain.