Republic of Ireland news

Taoiseach to unveil government's revised Living with Covid plan

Cate McCurry and James Ward, PA

The Taoiseach is to make a live address to the country today to unveil the government’s revised Living with Covid plan.

The plan will include the phased reopening of schools and childcare, with some school pupils set to return to the classroom on March 1.

Junior and senior infants as well as first and second class in primary schools will be among the first back to school.

Leaving Certificate students are also expected to return to the classroom next week.

In a live address at 6pm, Micheál Martin will also give an update on the vaccination priority list, with a few changes expected to be made.

However, opposition parties criticised the government’s messaging to the public about the plans to ease out of lockdown.

Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane said there was a lot of “anger and frustration” among the public.

“We’re picking that up from people who are very upset and angry over the government’s handling of this over the last number of weeks,” Mr Cullinane added.

“The mixed messages, the contradictions from Government ministers, the leaks and all of these issues.

“There’s no sense of any real leadership, no sense of a cohesive plan.

“All of this is in the context of people who are making very big sacrifices, people who are abiding by the public health guidelines.

“They’re obviously very tough on individuals, on families and on businesses.

“People want to play their part to bring the numbers down and they turn to government then, to ensure that the Government’s responses are appropriate.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said there had been a “shambolic handling” of proposals to reopen schools, describing them as “dangerously defective”.

He said the plans threatened to undermine the effort made during lockdown.

Meanwhile, official disease modeller Professor Philip Nolan said that while progress in reducing Covid-19 cases had slowed, the country was still making progress.

“Cases last week down 8% on the week before, under 700 in hospital this morning,” he tweeted.

“Importantly the number of symptomatic cases is falling, while we see more asymptomatic and contacts.

“It’s really hard, but we have to keep going.”

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