The Taoiseach has refused to speculate on suggestions that tight restrictions could be in place until June.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said yesterday a “cautious approach” is needed until June to avoid another wave of the disease.
But Taoiseach Michael Martin refused to speculate on any extension of restrictions. He says the government will re-assess the situation at the start of April:
"We do understand and get it that people are fed up," Martin said.
"In advance of the fifth of April, Government will announce the next phase in terms of what will happen during April. I've been very clear and consistent about that, so I'm not going to speculate right now in terms of any specific aspects of that.
"What I said in my last address to the people was we would look at the 5km limit obviously, we would look at construction, we would look at outdoor activity and sporting activity."
Also, Mr Martin said he expects a decision to be taken on the resumption of vaccination with AstraZeneca later today.
He said the Health Service Executive is "gearing up" for a resumption.
Speaking to the Brookings Institute in Washington DC as part of the traditional St Patrick’s Day event on Wednesday, the Taoiseach said the B117 variant “caught us” over the new year but that Ireland has seen a “dramatic reduction” in cases and hospitalisations due to the reimposition of severe restrictions.
CMO Dr Glynn also shared today that Ireland made the right call in pausing the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Rollout of the vaccine was suspended in several countries, including Ireland, over blood clot fears.
Following a review of the cases, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has concluded that the vaccine is “safe and effective”.
Speaking at last night’s COVID-19 briefing, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said he remains hopeful the suspension will not have damaged confidence in the jab.
“Will the last week pose a challenge in that regard? I have no doubt that it will,” he said.
“But equally, the challenge for us and for those tasked with rolling out the vaccine is to make sure that people’s questions are answered clearly.
“I would hope that the majority of people, when they reflect on the past week, will see that we acted quickly and we acted in the context of putting safety first.”
Main image: Handout photo issued by Julien Behal Photography of Taoiseach Michael Martin delivering an address to the nation in December 2020. Picture by: Tom Honan/PA Wire/PA Images