Ireland could remain in a prolonged period of lockdown until May, the Taoiseach has indicated.
It follows concerns that the UK variant of Covid-19 (which now accounts for three-quarters of all cases in Ireland) had resulted in numbers remaining stubbornly high.
Mr Martin expressed his fears to Fianna Fail TDs and Senators at a meeting last night, according to The Irish Times.
At a meeting of his parliamentary party, he said Covid numbers in hospitals were still 25% than in the April peak last year, and the number of patients in ICU was falling very slowly.
He expressed concern at the impact of the UK variant saying that close contacts had a positivity rate of 22.5 per cent, over twice the positivity rate of 10-11 per cent of the original virus.
He told colleagues a “prolonged period” of suppression was required.
A senior Government source told The Irish Times that the new Living with Covid plan, and the planned changes to commence on March 5th, would not result in any easing of Level 5 restrictions, save in the key sectors of education and construction.
Conversely, said the source, the Level 5 restrictions will be tightened in many cases.
There was a sign of that on Wednesday, when the GAA revealed that inter-county games will no longer be allowed under Level 5.
“We are in a phase of indefinite lockdown,” said the source. “The restrictions will continue right into April and possibly to the beginning of May.”
“There will be zero wriggle room for anyone looking for relaxing of restrictions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar said Ireland’s Covid-19 case numbers were “going in the right direction”.