HEALTH MINISTER Simon Harris has suggested that while lockdown restrictions will likely be eased in May, the Irish public shouldn't expect massive changes just yet.
Speaking to RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, Harris stressed that it was important "not to erase the progress the Irish people have made" in reducing the spread of Covid-19, as simply lifting all restrictions in one go would likely lead to the number of cases sharply rising again.
He instead urged the public to continue in their efforts to stifle the virus and expect more of a "gradual easing of restrictions".
"If you just lifted the restrictions, [the] curve would shoot right back up," Harris said.
"We're not going to erase the progress the Irish people have made. We would like to put in place a plan for a gradual easing of restrictions."
He added that this will not involve us simply returning to life "as we knew it" straight away.
"In the first week of May, you will not see a significant lifting of restrictions," Harris said, before adding that should ICU numbers continue to stabilise and the growth rate of the virus continues to fall, then an easing of lockdown measures can begin.
"We'll have to monitor it carefully. We don't want to go the way of Italy, or Spain or the UK. That means staying the course," he said.
"Public health is priority number one, two and three in that regard."
Restrictions, as they are, are set to be in place until May 5, whereby a decision will be made to extend, increase or reduce them.
Harris' message follows the news that the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland has reached a plateau, and that the growth rate of the virus is now close to zero.
That being said, experts have warned that, with negligence, the exponential growth could return, should distancing measures and health advice be ignored en masse.