Decision on accelerating easing of restrictions to be made next week

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that the country is on track for phase two of the lockdown exit plan but any easing of restrictions cannot be “accelerated unsafely”.
Decision on accelerating easing of restrictions to be made next week
Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe arriving at a media briefing outside Government Buildings this afternoon. Picture: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that the country is on track for phase two of the lockdown exit plan but any easing of restrictions cannot be “accelerated unsafely”.

It was also confirmed after a Cabinet meeting today that wage subsidy gaps for women returning to work after maternity leave will be resolved.

A €115m monthly deal for the government to use private hospitals will also end a new one agreed allowing the state "step in rights" to use ICUs.

Mr Varadkar and Cabinet members have explained the latest updates on Covid-19 and what changes are being agreed.

Mr Varadkar said that, according to the latest data, the virus numbers were “going in the right direction” and for phase two of the easing of restrictions on June 8.

The government will decide at the end of next week on whether to accelerate lifting of restrictions, he said.

Health Minister Simon Harris is also ending a deal for public health services to use private hospitals, costing €115m a month.

Instead, it is intended to seek a new deal giving the state "step in rights" to use ICUs and also use services for general patient care.

The government have also agreed with Revenue how to stop the discrimination of women returning to work from maternity leave who, because of a gap in emergency measures, were denied wage subsidy payments.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will move to end the gap and said it was to ensure everyone was treated equally.

Payments for those women who were denied wage subsidies will also be backdated, it was confirmed.

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