• Ministers are gearing up for the announcement on Thursday of what restrictions will ease over the coming months.

    They're also awaiting a decision on the roll-out of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

    A number of big decisions are due to be made this week.

    Over the next 48 hours India is likely to be added to the mandatory hotel quarantine list.

    It's also hoped NIAC will come back with a recommendation today or tomorrow on the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine after further meetings today.

    Tomorrow the cabinet holds its regular weekly meeting and will be updated on the Covid situation.

    NPHET will meet on Wednesday morning to consider its advice to government on the re-opening of the country in May and beyond.

    Health officials will brief a team of senior Ministers at the cabinet sub-committee that evening.

    Then on Thursday the full cabinet will meet to sign off on the easing of restrictions through May, and a roadmap for what June and July will look like.

    Fianna Fáil Ministers have played down how much detail will be in the plan for later in the summer.

    Most of the plans have been well flagged in advance - including the return of religious services, retail, the full construction sector and personal services like hairdressers.

    There is discussion ongoing about extra outdoor activities that may be allowed next month.

  • The cabinet sub-committee on COVID is meeting around now this evening to discuss a date for the re-opening of schools.

    It's expected students will return to classrooms from March 1st on a phased basis.

    Some students won't return to the classroom until April.

    Senior Ministers are meeting to discuss the re-opening of the economy and what that might look like over the next few months.

    Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn will update the government on NPHET's advice.

    That's likely to be a phased return of schools from March 1st, starting with Leaving Cert students and junior infants, senior infants and first class.

    NPHET doesn't want a million people all moving about to schools and back from the start of March, so other classes will be phased in.

    There will be reviews every two or three weeks, meaning some students won't return to the classroom until April.

    There's some concerns from Ministers about whether construction can return next month, and NPHET will advise on this.

    There may also be an update from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee on the priority list for vaccinations, and whether groups like family carers can be bumped up the list.

    Discussions this evening will also feed into the updated living with COVID plan due to be released next week.


    The finance minister says the government is sticking to its plan to ease restrictions in July.

    There had been calls to speed up the reopening as the vaccination programme has accelerated and Covid deaths have dropped.

    But Paschal Donohoe says patience is needed.


  • There will be an update later today on the re-opening of schools in six weeks time.

    Tens of millions of euro is expected to be made available to cover the cost of any safety measures needed to protect staff and students from Covid-19.

    Mayo Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary told Midwest News this morning that the funding will be made available to make structural changes to classrooms, improve hand washing facilities along with daily cleaning and hygiene routines.

    The Irish Times is reporting that enhanced supervision and substitution will be provided to cover an expected increase in teacher absences.

    The Taoiseach will meet the Education Minister this morning to discuss the plan.

    Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn yesterday said that schools were "absolutely on track" to reopen based on how virus infection rate had stabilised.