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Nphet warning Level 5 restrictions to stay in place until at least May as Government discuss new plans

A cautious approach to re-opening the country is expected over the coming months as the National Vaccination ­Programme continues.

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Level 5 restrictions may remain in place until May under new plans for living with the coronavirus being discussed by the Government.

The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 agreed to begin a phased reopening of schools on March 1 after the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) advised students can begin returning to classes.

All other decisions on restrictions were postponed until a meeting next Monday.

A cautious approach to re- opening the country is expected over the coming months as the National Vaccination ­Programme continues.

A small amount of construction may be allowed next month, but most restrictions will remain until the end of April or start of May. They will be reviewed in early April.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and his Cabinet ministers were briefed by Nphet and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The warnings from Nphet were described as "stark" after the meeting.

A phased reopening of primary and secondary schools was discussed.

Under a proposed plan, junior and senior infant pupils, along with first and second class and Leaving Cert stud-ents, would return to classes in the first week of March.

Other national school classes would return in the latter half of the month under the plan, which will be discussed by the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 on Monday.

The plan, which is dependent on the spread of the virus and teacher union support, would also see fifth-year stud-ents return to class in mid-March.

Each step will be reviewed to assess the impact on the spread of the virus in the ­community.

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