LEO VARADKAR has identified the five key criteria Ireland will need to meet before the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions can begin.
Speaking in the Dail, the Taoiseach outlined what he viewed as a possible “roadmap” to the “new normal” of life alongside the virus.
Despite beginning to plan for life after lockdown, Mr Varadkar was keen to stress that any change would be very gradual.
"People want to know when things are going back to normal, and I can inform the Dail that a plan is being developed to ease the lockdown - a roadmap to reopen Ireland, a roadmap to what will be a new normal,” he said.
"Unfortunately for those who would like an immediate return to a pre-Covid world, the easement of the current restrictions will be slow and gradual, and will be done in a stepwise tiered manner.
"It will require continuous effort to suppress and control the virus.
"Therefore, the lifting of restrictions will not necessarily mirror the manner in which they were escalated."
The Taoiseach’s five criteria for easing restrictions are:
Progress of disease
Healthcare capacity and resilience
Testing and contact tracing capacity
Ability to shield at risk groups, and
The risk of secondary morbidity.
The speech also saw Mr Varadkar express concern that many who may need urgent medical care for conditions not related to coronavirus were not visiting hospitals enough.
He was particularly concerned about individuals battling potentially terminal diseases, saying "cancer hasn't gone away."
The Taoiseach is expected to announce an extension of Ireland’s lockdown for a minimum of two further weeks.