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Ireland extends highest Covid-19 lockdown restrictions to April 5
23 February 2021, 18:57 | Updated: 23 February 2021, 19:01
Ireland will remain at the highest level of Covid-19 lockdown until at least April 5, the Taoiseach has announced.
Micheal Martin said on Tuesday the nation will continue with its Level 5 lockdown, although there will be a phased reopening of schools from March 1.
The revised Living With Covid plan will also see childcare settings allowed to open from March 8, alongside some non-Covid healthcare services.
Mr Martin said Ireland is "driving down the levels of infection", but said the emergence of the UK variant in the country had made the situation very different to what it was several months ago.
The Taoiseach said the B117 variant - first discovered in Kent - now accounts for 90% of new infections in Ireland.
"The truth is that it has changed the dynamic significantly and we need to be very careful as we take the next steps forward," he said.
Mr Martine told those living in Ireland it is "critically important" that people do not let their guard down, and said all those working from home must continue to do so.
"When we open things, we want them to stay open, that is why I cannot overemphasise the importance of continued observance of Level 5 restrictions.
"We want to reopen society as soon and as safely as possible, so if we can maintain downward pressure on the disease and keep our numbers low we will then move into the next phase," he said.
The next phase is set to include outdoor gatherings, some sporting activities, the gradual reopening of construction and movement on the 5k limit on non-essential journeys.