Marching on | 

Level 5 lockdown extended until March 5, Taoiseach Micheal Martin announces

"The message is stay at home, do not travel do not make any journeys outside of your 5km unless you absolutely have to," he said.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Julien Behal

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Julien Behal

Gabija Gataveckaite

Ireland's Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown will continue until March 5, Taoiseach Micheal Martin has announced. Follow our live blog for all the latest updates.


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says that if the government was to undertake a Zero Covid strategy, it would be difficult to "unseal" the country.

"When do you ever unseal?

"We would expose a naive population to the virus at one point," he says.

He added that Nphet and government find Zero Covid "frustrating" that Zero Covid would lead to Ireland "living like New Zealand": "It's a false promise".

"Nphet have never advised Zero Covid, they advise that we suppress virus to lowest level," added Mr Martin.

There will be a "cautious" approach taken to reopening and that vaccines are a "big change".


Mr Varadkar says that mandatory hotel quarantine wouldn't be effective because of the border and that it would be in place for a year.


The time right now is to double down, says the Taoiseach.

He says that hospital staff are under a lot of pressures and this must be eased


Hotels closest to Dublin Airport will be used as quarantine centres and it is intended that people will be charged for their stays, according to the Tánaiste.


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says that it is "disproportionate" that someone who runs one kilometre more from their house is fined the same as someone who goes on a ski holiday.

Those who travel abroad for non-essential reasons will be fined €500.


We have not had enough vaccine in Q1, says Mr Martin.


There is "time" being given to Minister for Education Norma Foley to work out phased reopening, according to the Taoiseach.


Reopening in April will be "cautious and conservative" according to the Taoiseach.

April, May and June will be "significant" months for vaccinations.


Case numbers may fall to lower what they were when schools were open over the next 20 years, according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

A phased basis reopening would begin with children with special needs and "potentially" move to other groups. He says that this phased basis is due to to virus variants.

"This is something that we're very keep to agree with everyone involved in education," adds Mr Varadkar.


Gardaí can ask people travelling from the North to turn back, according to Minister Eamon Ryan.

"The objective here is to reduce the volume of traffic."


The border in Northern Ireland "cannot be sealed" due to communities moving between the border.

A "strong policy of suppression of the virus" may work instead.


The Government has "never been advised" to undertake a Zero Covid strategy.

"It's a promise we could never fulfil," says Mr Martin.


The motivation for extending Level 5 is to get hospitalisations and ICU numbers down, according to Mr Martin. He says that this will be reviewed on March 5.

Quarter two will see "significantly more" vaccines available to administer.

"We're going to adopt a conservative, cautious approach now," he adds.


Officials representing the Executive in Northern Ireland and those in the south have discussed data sharing in terms of the passengers coming into the country.

Taoiseach says that it has been a "challenge" as there are "political sensitivities" around it.


Majority of people travelling in and out of the country are Irish citizens, says the Taoiseach.

There are "operational issues" around securing a facility for hotel quarantine, but he says that this is being addressed in an "urgent manner".


"It is absolutely essential that we continue to back Level 5 measures," adds Mr Donnelly.

Vaccination programme is "going well" and it is hoped that 51,000 doses will be delivered this week.

The government is "not happy" with the news from Astra Zeneca, where "significantly less" vaccine doses will be delivered.


Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that virus patient admissions to hospital have stabilised.

Two thirds of all new cases are likely to be the UK variant of the virus, he says.


Minister Eamon Ryan said that work is ongoing with the UK to ensure there is no "backdoor" between jurisdictions.


The Government hopes that cases will be "very low" in March and April.

International travel will then be an issue at the forefront, according to the Tánaiste.


Mr Varadkar said that "very few" people getting the virus in recent days will be due to international travel.


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that those entering the state from overseas must be subject to mandatory quarantine, at home, or in some cases, in a hotel.

"We need to identify quarantine hotels in addition to Citywest, which we already have," he said.


The Taoiseach said that those who have a leadership role in politics or media, must "stay focused on the measures that will bring this disease under control".

"The road we are on is hard," adds Mr Martin.


"There should be no non essential travel," says the Taoiseach.

Travel outside of 5km which is non essential is a "clear breach" of restrictions.

Visa-free short term travel from South Africa is suspended until March 5.

Mandatory quarantine at designated facilities will be required for people from Brazil or South Africa.


According to Mr Martin, the restrictions are being extended "with a view to crushing the numbers of those contracting the disease.

"The message is stay at home, do not travel do not make any journeys outside of your 5km unless you absolutely have to," he said.

The Taoiseach says that we "must reduce" the numbers in hospital and ICU with Covid-19.

"Our hospitals are under enormous pressure," he said.


Mr Martin added: "The current Level 5 restrictions are having a very positive effect on the country.

"I would like to thank everyone for your efforts to date."

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and the Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan are due to make an announcement this afternoon on the latest Covid-19 restrictions after a Cabinet meeting took place this afternoon.

It is expected that schools are to reopen on a phased basis from February and mandatory quarantine is to be brought in for passengers coming in from overseas.

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