THERE MAY be some public health measures that remain in place in Ireland for the entirety of 2021, in spite of whatever progress is made in the fight against Covid-19.
According to Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn, if Ireland is to go through with its cautious reopening approach, then it may mean some restrictions stick around for longer than initially expected.
Health experts are hoping that around 80% of the Irish population will have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of June, but members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) think precautions may have to continue long beyond that.
"I think there will be some element of public health measures still in place but I would hope that will be an environment which is far closer to what we have understood as normal in 2019 than what we are living in today," Dr Glynn explained.
April 5 had been initially earmarked as the date when public health measures in Ireland would begin to be scaled back, but it's understood that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told colleagues during a Fine Gael party meeting this week that lockdown rules will, more or less, remain as they are until May.
The Irish Government has thus far refused to outline anything resembling a timeline for the easing of coronavirus restrictions, unlike in the UK where June 21 has been picked as the date when all measures will be lifted.
It's thought that a relaxation on rules regarding outdoor activity and sport will occur in April, but the Ireland will have to wait until the majority of the country is vaccinated before a significant easing of restrictions can be seriously considered.
It's expected that around 80% of the country will have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of June, and Mr Varadkar has previously said that once everyone over the age of 60, as well as those with chronic health conditions, have been vaccinated, Ireland's job will be "98% done".