Leo Varadkar rules out going straight to Level 3 restrictions in March
"It will be a very gradual easing of restrictions."
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said there will be a very gradual easing of restrictions from 5 March, but cautioned it would only happen if case numbers of Covid-19 are low.
Varadkar said people should not expect Ireland to jump from Level 5 to Level 3 restrictions like the country did at the start of December last year.
Case numbers remain high in Ireland at the moment and there is severe pressures on intensive care units in the country, he said.
Speaking on RTÉ News at One, Varadkar said if Ireland was in a position where cases were low on 5 March and the pressure on the ICUs had eased, then restrictions could be eased "gradually".
"What happens between now and 5 March if things go to plan is, we get case numbers down very low, we allow our hospitals and ICUs to recover," Varadkar said.
"We see the number of patients and hospital now falling, down to 1727 today, but ICU's are going to be under pressure for a long time.
"It will enable us to reopen education in a phased way over the next five weeks which we want to do and also get the vaccine out to more people.
"What’s anticipated is that when it comes to 5 March if we have cases low, if we have the ICUs under a lot less pressure, than we will be able to ease some restrictions, but it will be a very gradual easing of restrictions.
"More like what you saw after the first wave then maybe a jump from Level 5 to 3 which is what we would have done in December."