Level 5 restrictions are likely to continue into March.
The Government will meet today to discuss extending the lockdown for a further five weeks, as hospitals struggle to care for 1,905 Covid-19 patients, of which 219 are in ICU.
A mandatory 14-day quarantine for incoming passengers is also on the agenda for today, with an official decision on both matters expected later this afternoon.
A further 1,372 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the past 24 hours, with seven deaths from the disease. There were 164 new cases in Cork, 502 in Dublin, 77 in Wexford, 75 in Waterford and 66 in Louth, with the remaining 488 cases spread across all other counties.
Speaking on RTÉs Claire Byrne Live last night, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said any easing of restrictions will need to be ‘very, very, slow’.
“It might start off very slow, maybe just with some retail, with maybe being allowed to meet two people outdoors, it’s going to be a very slow unwinding of restrictions but you know if we can get the figures down very low, that becomes a possibility.” Mr Varadkar said.
“If we can get to the better weather, and this is a partially seasonal virus, so that does matter too, and if we can get a critical mass of people back vaccinated, we can ease restrictions,”
Mr Varadkar said that, while no timeline has been set, special schools will return to the classroom first, followed by primary school students and exam classes.
“I cannot give a definite date to parents but the one thing that we do intend is to open education on a phased basis across February and March – starting with those kids with additional needs.”