Revealed: The four things Ireland must do before Level 5 lockdown can be lifted, according to Tánaiste
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Revealed: The four things Ireland must do before Level 5 lockdown can be lifted, according to Tánaiste

IRELAND'S NEW Living With Covid plan was unveiled on Tuesday, and it's fair to say that it hasn't exactly excited anyone.

No exact date was given as to when lockdown will be lifted, or when Covid-19 restrictions will be gone - unlike the in the UK, where June 21 has been earmarked as the end of all things Covid.

While many were disheartened by the lack of clarity in the announcement, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar defended the government's plan, stressing that Ireland's lockdown exit strategy will be dictated by data, not dates.

He said that the ever-changing nature of the Covid-19 crisis, as well as fluctuating vaccine supplies around the world, means it's almost impossible to provide an accurate time-frame for when this will all be over.

What Mr Varadkar did reveal, however, are the four 'tests' Ireland must pass in order to lift lockdown.

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He said that the Government will be assessing:

  • The R number
  • The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital
  • The pace of the vaccine rollout
  • The influence of new variants

"Essentially, there are four test that we're going to apply - obviously based on advice from public health doctors and scientists," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

"The strong advice [from Ireland's Chief Medical Officer and Acting Chief Medical Officer] is that it's actually not a good idea to set exact metrics.

"It's more about trends," he added.

"We saw in December how quickly this can go in the wrong direction, and it was the trends there that we need to keep an eye on."

Varadkar added that the Government hopes to halve the number of Covid-19 patients currently in ICUs over the next month or so.

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He also said that once people over the age of 60, as well as anyone with underlying health conditions, were vaccinated, 98% of Ireland's job will be done.

"We may really see the vaccines making a real difference - in terms of hospitalisations and people getting sick, and deaths, as opposed to cases - in May or June.

"And that might put us in the position where we can make decisions that we can't make now."