IRELAND is to adopt a colour code system, akin to the one currently used for weather warnings, to identify levels of Covid-19 across the country.
A Cabinet sub-committee outlined the new plan on Tuesday, which will see the Government move away from the current 'phased' approach to reopening the country.
It comes less than a week after Kildare, Offaly and Laois were all forced back into localised lockdown and just days after Leo Varadkar warned that more counties could suffer the same fate.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly explained the new colour coding system for Covid-19.
The desired colour category will be blue, the colour of vaccines throughout the medical world.
Though the plan will aim for a 'status blue' period in the country where the virus is suppressed, this will only come into effect when vaccinations or a breakthrough medical treatment become available.
Other codes include red, orange and yellow.
In the yellow status, most businesses would be open, as would schools.
An orange status would signify local outbreaks in communities, rather than in specific settings, as is the case in the midland counties currently under lockdown.
An orange status outbreak would involve restrictions similar to those imposed on the people of Kildare, Offaly and Laois.
A status red outbreak would send the country back into lockdown. But another lockdown may not be as severe as the last quarantine, due to a better understanding of how the virus spreads.
Mr Donnelly added that a 'green' category had been avoided because of concern about it being confused with the green list of countries to which it is possible to travel without having to quarantine on return.
Speaking about the new system on Morning Ireland, he said; "NPHET’s proposal essentially is a colour coded system which we would all recognise and be familiar with from weather warnings.
"The idea is we have a yellow level which is where we could be at now in most of the country - but outside of the three counties obviously where there’s restrictions in place," he explained.
"There would be an orange level - which would be some version of what Laois, Offaly and Kildare have in place right now - a red level which would be across the whole country and which we have become very accustomed to, which is very much what the people of Auckland are dealing with at the moment, and then blue.
"Blue is the colour of vaccines in the medical world. And the idea of blue is we wouldn’t be fully clear of this obviously until we have a vaccine and we can get back to our lives."