Public health restrictions should be dropped further, as now is the best time to do it.
That's according to Professor Paul Moynagh, director of the Kathleen Lonsdale Institute for Human Health Research.
He was speaking as the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) meets to consider lifting the legal requirement for face masks to be worn in certain settings.
They may no longer be required in shops, on public transport or in schools.
Prof Moynagh told Newstalk Breakfast he believes it is time to move beyond the restrictions.
"I think we've reached that stage for a couple of reasons.
"One is in terms of the level of immunity we have in the population... and the second factor is I think the Omicron changed things quite a bit.
"We now have a variant that transmits incredibly well - but fortunately it is less severe, it's less virulent.
"And as a result, despite over the last number of months we've seen very high levels of infection, but they haven't translated into very high numbers... in terms of hospitalisation and serious illness".
He says while the virus will remain with us, now is the optimum time.
"This virus is not going to go away, it's going to continue to exist in various forms.
"There will be new variants.
"But if we don't left the restrictions now, when will we lift them?
"That would be the question - when is the best time - and I think we've reached the stage where our protection is as good as we're going to get".
And Prof Moynagh says people will choose whether to wear a mask or not.
"I think in terms of the effectiveness of the masks, yes I think they have value and they have benefit.
"As we move forward and out of this pandemic, I think we will make our own sort of individual evaluations in terms of risk.
"And some will continue to wear masks, some will continue - for example, if visiting a vulnerable relative - will continue to do antigen testing.
"So I think it will move more towards this personal evaluation of risk".