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12.08 16 Oct 2020


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The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he is 'not surprised' NPHET has recommended the whole country move to level five restrictions.

The National Public Health Emergency Team has made the recommendation for a second time to move the entire country to the most severe level of the Plan for Living with COVID-19.

Officials have said the lockdown should last for six weeks.

Mr Varadkar said he was expecting such an announcement.

"I wasn't surprised, I hadn't expected NPHET to resile from the advice that they'd given before.

"And obviously given the fact that the pandemic has continued to get worse, and the numbers of people getting the virus, the numbers of people in hospital accelerating - less so ICUs - but still a picture that is worsening.

"I wasn't surprised that they were maintaining their advice".

Public health officials made it clear a number of weeks ago they feel a level five lockdown is needed - and the situation has only deteriorated from there.

The latest recommendation came on a day that saw a record high number of cases at 1,205.

It is not expected there will be any immediate decision from the Government on what to do.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is in Brussels for an EU summit and will not be back until late on Friday.

Government sources indicated they would take the weekend to consider the situation, the impact of level five and whether in light of a further worsening of the situation that it is warranted.

That would indicate a Cabinet decision on the issue on either Monday or Tuesday.

A number of ministers also want to get out of the cycle of having new announcements every few days, which they admit is very draining for people.

They also want to give level three restrictions a chance to work, given it has been less than two weeks since they were implemented.

However, the NPHET recommendation will put further political pressure on an escalation of restrictions.

Main image: File photo of Tony Holohan and Ronan Glynn. Photograph: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie
Reporting by Sean Defoe

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