The ESRI says the Government has generally been riskier with easing restrictions than the public wanted.
However, he's suggested the current cautious approach being taken is largely in line with what the public wants to happen.
Cabinet meets later today to sign off on what's expected to be a very limited easing of restrictions during April.
The focus is largely expected to be on allowing some outdoor activities to resume, as well as extending the 5km travel restriction.
Latest data from the ESRI shows there’s already been an ‘uptick’ in social household visits - going up from around 5% of adults socialising per day to 11.5% in the past two months, amounting to hundreds of thousands of adults per day.
The ESRI’s Pete Lunn says they believe that’s the ‘prime suspect’ for plateauing case numbers, as it’s been the biggest behavioural change they've seen recently.
Despite this, he says the data points to most people wanting the Government to be cautious.
Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Mr Lunn explained: “It has been the case throughout this pandemic that the authorities have been more risky than the public wanted them to be.
“That comes as a surprise to many people, but it is true. We’ve been monitoring closely, and it’s not just one survey - it’s multiple data sources of different types consistently showing that, on average, the public wanted a more cautious approach.
“Interestingly, what is happening in this particular wave of infection is much closer to what the public want.
"Now the public is lined up fairly evenly on whether we’re going too fast or too slow.”
Mr Lunn suggested the cautious approach since Christmas has been broadly popular among the public, but there’ll be a tricky balance to be maintained as restrictions are eased over the coming weeks and months.
He said people are “very, very worried” that case numbers will shoot up again if everyone isn’t careful.
He observed: “That in the current context would be a disaster because we are only a few months away from having a very large proportion of the population vaccinated.
“The key thing is for us is to try to stick it out long enough for the gamechanger that is the vaccine to kick in.”