There are signs that the Covid virus is slowing in Ireland as the number of new cases dropped to 11,693 today.
These are comprised of 5,767 additional PCR-confirmed cases as well as 5,916 positive antigen tests registered through the HSE portal.
There are now 979 people in hospital with the virus with 93 of the in ICU.
It comes as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Fine Gael parliamentary party of his wish to set 31 March as a deadline to end almost all legal Covid restrictions.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that public health restrictions are set to be wound down “very soon”.
The Minister said it’s likely some restrictions will be lifted before the end of the month.
However, he would not say if restrictions on 8pm closing time for the hospitality industry could be lifted by this weekend.
The current restrictions were set to run until Sunday 30 January.
But the Health Minister has now all but confirmed that many of them will end before that date.
The letter NPHET will send to Government on Thursday evening will ultimately influence the exact timing but it’s very possible restrictions could be eased from early next week.
Minister Donnelly said Government wanted to see a return to normal life and to ease the burden on people as quickly as possible.
It’s now expected that a new midnight closing time for bars, restaurants and cultural venues is on the way.