NPHET recommends six-week Level 5 lockdown for entire country

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended Ireland enter a six-week Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown.

The recommendation was made last night in a letter sent to Government.

Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan entered Level 4 last night, while a nationwide ban on household visits also came into force.

Level 5 would see country return to a state of lockdown similar to that seen in March and is seen as a chance to ensure that there are no major restrictions over Christmas.

In Level 5, people would be restricted to moving within 5km of their homes, pubs and restaurants would operate on a takeaway basis only and public gatherings would largely be banned.

Sources say that the Cabinet is not due to meet today, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin at a European Council meeting in Brussels.

However, it is understood that the recommendation is being given "proper consideration".

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that he was aware of the letter's content but had not seen it.

"I haven't seen the letter yet from NPHET. I'm aware of some of his contents but haven't seen the letter yet. So what'll happen is the Coordination Group will meet, and after that government will consider the advice, taking into account the public health implications but also other implications to around the impact on society on the economy on lives livelihoods on mental health, and we'll make a decision in due course but there's no plans for a Cabinet meeting today.

"Moving to any level, whether it's four or five or back down again has to take into account a number of things, obviously, the public health objectives around saving lives and transmission of the virus, but also the impact on mental health and general health and disability services on education, on society, on jobs and that's what we'll do, and I do certainly feel that a second lockdown will be a lot more difficult than the first, and the public would want and expect to know what the exit strategy is how long it would go on for and what the target is what we're actually trying to achieve and at what point would we be able to use restrictions again."

Last night, CMO Dr Tony Holohan said that the rise in hospitalizations was particularly worrying.

“The number of hospitalisations are increasing faster than the exponential growth modelling predicted. This indicates a rapidly deteriorating disease trajectory nationally.”

Earlier today, the Education Minister said if the country goes to Level 5 of the Covid-19 restrictions she would seek public health advice in relation to schools remaining open.

NPHET advised the Department of Health on Wednesday that schools are not amplifying the case numbers.

Minister Norma Foley says schools continue to be a safe place to be.

"There has been an absolute determination to keep our schools open," she told Newstalk.

"But it is very important to say that at Level 5, we would of course follow the public health advice available at that point."

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