TAOISEACH Micheál Martin says that the ‘end is truly in sight’ as he confirmed the extension of Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
The lockdown measures will be in place until at least April 5.
Bar the reopening of schools and childcare settings – on a phased basis from March 1 – there will be no major easing of restrictions.
In a televised address, Martin said: “I know people are physically and emotionally exhausted.
“There is enormous pressure on us as a society.
“Steadily and surely we are driving down the levels of infection.
“The situation that we and indeed all of Europe find ourselves in is very different to the situation we found ourselves several months ago.”
Next month, the government will consider an easing of the 5km travel limit for exercise and some outdoor activity may be permitted.
From March 1, Leaving Certificate students and children in junior infants, senior infants, first and second classes will return to school.
The remainder of primary school classes will resume on March 15 while fifth year students in secondary education will return to the classroom on March 15 with all other secondary school students returning on April 12.
From March 8, childcare will resume, starting with the Early Childhood Care and Education preschool scheme.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme will be extended to the end of June
Martin said: “When we open things, we want them to stay open.”