Irish government split on lifting 5km travel limit next month

Irish government split on lifting 5km travel limit next month

CABINET is reportedly split on whether or not to lift Ireland's current 5km travel limit next month due to concerning Covid-19 figures.

Last month, the Government announced that they would begin easing public health restrictions on April 5, with the travel limit expected to be one of just a few to be lifted.

But the move has now been cast into doubt following news of Ireland's extended lockdown period.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn announced at a press briefing yesterday that, in order to avoid a fourth wave of the disease, most lockdown measures are expected to remain in place for several months.

A "cautious approach" was needed, Dr Glynn said, and any easing of restrictions before the end of June will likely relate to outdoor activities.

With this latest setback, coupled with Ireland's recent vaccine supply issues, no major restrictions are expected to be eased until the summer.

Irish public ranks '2km limit on movement' as lockdown restriction they most want lifted. Gardaí have been performing regular checks on roads to question people on their reason for travelling and whether they are outside of their 5km zone (Getty)

The 5km travel limit, having been earmarked as one of the first measures to go, may end up staying in a bit to suppress the spread of the virus.

Some Cabinet members feel the incidence rate in Ireland is not yet low enough for relaxation of the rule, while others believe the Government will lose support without a change.

Chair of Nphet's Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Philip Nolan estimated the reproductive 0r R number to now be between 0.8-1.1 showing the transmission of the virus is either stabilised or declining at a very slow rate.

One Government source said an easing of restrictions similar to Northern Ireland is the “best we can hope for”.

Stormont has allowed small outdoor gatherings, some sporting activities and click-and-collect services.