'It's a minor step along the way': HSE warns May 18 is not a 'big single moment'

It is hoped Monday, May 18 will mark the beginning of a phased reopening of the country.
'It's a minor step along the way': HSE warns May 18 is not a 'big single moment'
Joggers in Dublin practicing social distancing

The head of the HSE is concerned a lot of people think May 18 is a "big single moment".

Senior health officials have been meeting to discuss the easing of restrictions from next week.

It is hoped Monday, May 18 will mark the beginning of a phased reopening of the country.

If given the green light, groups of four can gather, DIY centres will reopen and sports like golf and tennis will resume.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has been meeting to discuss the easing of the restrictions and its advice will go to Cabinet.

Speaking after the meeting, NPHET member Dr Cillian de Gascun says the recent Covid-19 figures have been encouraging.

"I think the measures that have been described at the press briefings during the week have been broadly positive from the point of view of the number of cases admitted to intensive care but no decisions have been finalised at this point," said Dr de Gascun.

But the Head of the HSE is concerned people are pinning a lot of hopes on Monday.

Paul Reid says any easing of the restrictions would only be small.

"We would have a concern that we would see a surge of people thinking the 18th is a big single moment.

"The 18th isn't a big single moment. We have a number of weeks ahead for government to make various decisions in terms of restrictions.

"But the 18th is not a single big moment, it's a minor step along the way."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is increasingly confident about the country starting to ease restrictions from next week.

But he has warned things are not going to return to full normality straight away.

It's worth remembering that we are still in Phase Zero, the moment that we assume that our progress through the phases is inevitable we risk going backwards.

Mr Varadkar said it will be months, not weeks, before EU travel returns and that things like handshakes are done with for the time being, with personal hygiene and hand sanitisation being more important than ever.

We are due to find out tomorrow what the plan will be for Monday.

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