NPHET has "emergency brake" if reopening goes "off track", says Micheál Martin
He said Covid-19 will be with us "perhaps for eternity".
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has an "emergency brake" to freeze the easing of restrictions if "things go off track" during Ireland's reopening.
Speaking on RTE's Prime Time on Thursday evening, he said that NPHET and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Tony Holohan will have the power to tell the Government they have to stop or freeze the reopening, but only if things go "horribly wrong".
The Taoiseach said that Ireland is still in a "precarious situation" and likely will be until the entirety of the country's population is vaccinated.
"We've had three waves, and we're not saying that we're out of the woods, we're saying this is still a precarious situation, still 70% of adults not vaccinated," he said.
"At least until pretty much everyone is vaccinated, we're still going to be battling this virus, and even when everyone is vaccinated, this virus will be with us perhaps for eternity, and certainly with us somewhere in the world.
"So, it is going to require ongoing vigilance and there is an emergency brake, and if things go off track or go horribly wrong, the CMO and NPHET are in a position to say to us that we have to stop or we have to freeze reopening. I hope that doesn't happen, but that is there as a possibility."
In an announcement at Government buildings on Thursday, Martin confirmed a gradual lifting of restrictions on a phased basis.
Inter-county travel, hairdressers and barbers, click and collect from retail, and outdoor adult sports training in pods of a maximum of 15 people will return from 10 May. Meanwhile, further restrictions such as full retail and outdoor hospitality will return from 17 May to 7 June.