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Lockdown looms Holohan arrives at Government Buildings to brief coalition leaders about level 5 recommendation

The Taoiseach Micheal Martin, who travelled back from Brussels last night, was also seen on his way in to the crunch meeting to discuss the proposal to escalate Covid-19 restrictions.

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Left to Right. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan and Deputy CMO Dr. Ronan Glynn arrive to brief party leaders on why they want to move to Level 5 straight away. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Left to Right. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan and Deputy CMO Dr. Ronan Glynn arrive to brief party leaders on why they want to move to Level 5 straight away. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Left to Right. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan and Deputy CMO Dr. Ronan Glynn arrive to brief party leaders on why they want to move to Level 5 straight away. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has arrived at Government Buildings to tell the main party leaders why he has recommend that the country move to Level 5.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin, who travelled back from Brussels last night, was also seen on his way in to the crunch meeting to discuss the proposal to escalate Covid-19 restrictions that could see Ireland move into a full lockdown.

The National Public Health Emergency team (Nphet) has recommended every county moves to Level 5 of the Government's Living with Covid-19 plan, which would mean everyone must stay within 5 kilometres of their home.

As well as the Taoiseach, Dr Holohan the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, and Epidemiological Modelling Group Chair, Professor Philip Nolan, are briefing Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Finance Paschal Minister Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath.

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Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan and Deputy CMO Dr. Ronan Glynn arrive to brief party leaders on why they want to move to Level 5 straight away.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan and Deputy CMO Dr. Ronan Glynn arrive to brief party leaders on why they want to move to Level 5 straight away.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan and Deputy CMO Dr. Ronan Glynn arrive to brief party leaders on why they want to move to Level 5 straight away.

While Mr Martin has said that the situation is very serious and further action will be needed, senior Government figures fear that another lockdown could last much longer then the recommended six weeks, and lead to major economic implications.

However, Nphet is understood to have written to the Government with warnings about what could happen if its advice is not followed.

The advice, contained in a letter sent to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is not expected to recommend the closure of schools but teachers have previously said opening schools during a Level 5 would be “incomprehensible.”

Speaking earlier today, the General Secretary of the ASTI Kieran Christie said there was "trepidation and fear among teachers and students" this with the possibility of society moving to Level 5 and schools remaining open.

Mr Christie told RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon, that the union had contacted the Minister for Education over a week ago following reports the country could be moving to Level 5.

He had asked for a comprehensive review of the health guidance and supports for schools to determine whether they would be adequate, and added that they are renewing that call now.

"Schools reopened when numbers were much lower than they are now and community transmission was a lot less than it is now,” he said.

"We are asking the question now there is the prospect of the entirety of society moving to level 5, are the supports and arrangements in schools adequate, given the change of situation," he said.

He said the balloting of members for industrial action over safety concerns during the pandemic is ongoing.

The director general of the HSE Paul Reid has also tweeted about major concerns among the medical community about being able to deal with the emerging crisis.

"Spoke to our hospital managers & consultants now," he tweeted.

"Feedback, 1.Coping but under pressure. 2. Trying to protect non Covid care. 3. Concern re staff getting virus in communities at a key time that we need them. The public actions are key now to keep all services going."

There are fears that Level 5 restrictions could leave up to 600,000 people once again reliant on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for support, and that businesses would close.

Any such decision to move to Level 5 would require a meeting of the wider Cabinet, but so far no such meeting is planned for this weekend.

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