THE TAOISEACH is eager to relax Ireland’s coronavirus restrictions in time for Christmas.
While Micheál Martin was keen to avoid pre-empting any official government announcement, he confirmed that detailed discussions were due to take place on the best course of action for exiting Level 5 on December 1.
In the meantime, he has expressed a personal desire to lift the restrictions on travel and home visits to “give people hope” for the year ahead.
"We can have a good Christmas if we mind ourselves and mind each other," he said.
According to the Irish Examiner, initial discussions have taken place over the lifting of the current travel bans though a government source has stressed it will not be a “free for all”.
"If it goes ahead, people would be asked to limit themselves to a reasonable number of close contacts, and even then, distancing and ventilation would be important," one minister told the news provider.
Officials are wary of making any firm commitment, however, until case numbers drop further.
"We can't tell people that they can have a certain type of Christmas or reopen their business and then take that away if the numbers are worse," a high-level source to the Irish Examiner.
A best-case scenario would likely see the current ban on household visits limited.
Even then, the public would be asked to limit gatherings to a maximum of one day.
There could also be specific rules for anyone visiting older or vulnerable family members.
However, plans for how Christmas will look in Ireland this year are unlikely to be ironed out until closer to the December 1st deadline for the lifting of lockdown restrictions in Ireland.
That leaves many restaurants and hospitality services facing an uncertain few weeks while the Government establishes plans for the traditionally busy festive period.