NPHET will make recommendations this afternoon on what restrictions can be eased after April 5th.
Senior Ministers will then meet to consider the issue before a full cabinet meeting tomorrow.
It’s as 13 more deaths were confirmed last evening with 604 new cases, up to four more each in Carlow and Kilkenny.
The latest figures mean that Kilkenny now has the fourth-lowest 14-day incidence rate in the country, at 49.4 per 100,000 with Carlow also now in the lower ten counties on a rate of 119.4, below the national figure of 164.5.
While three patients with the virus are being treated at St Luke’s General with one in intensive care and one further suspected case.
And at University Hospital Waterford 18 have Coronavirus after one recent admission with two in ICU and another seven showing symptoms.
The country’s senior public health officials meet this morning amid a rising number of new COVID cases to consider what restrictions can be eased after April 5th.
There’s a wide understanding across government and NPHET that people need some hope after months of Level 5.
But the increasing transmission of the virus is likely to lead to a very cautious recommendation.
It’s expected the 5km travel rule will be relaxed, outdoor meet-ups will be allowed between two households and sport may return for children.
There will be a big focus on outdoor activities, likely including golf and tennis, as NPHET fears any indoor gatherings or meetups.
Construction has emerged as the big doubt.
Some Ministers believe it’s vital the sector opens given the massive housing shortage, and Minister Darragh O’Brien will attend the cabinet sub-committee later to make the case.
But an increasingly cautious NPHET may ask the government to hold off even longer.
There’s also differing views in government on how long this new stretch of restrictions should last.
The Taoiseach has suggested it will be until mid-May, while others want a review at the end of April taking into account vaccine roll-out progress.
A full decision won’t be made until the cabinet meets tomorrow.
For the first time, 100,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered in the space of a week, according to the HSE.
After days of revelations over the Beacon Hospital’s vaccine clinics, HSE boss Paul Reid says the programme is “heading to a new phase”.
The latest data on the vaccine drive shows a record number of shots were given on Thursday, close to 27,500.
That brings the seven-day total up to 106,000 doses.
Health service boss Paul Reid says the intention is to vaccinate a similar number this week.
The target set is for between 95,000 and 105,000 doses to be delivered.
The bulk of them, 75,000 or 80,000, are to be administered at 540 GP surgeries, mostly to over-seventies.
Between 15,000 and 20,000 medically vulnerable patients are also due to be injected.
While around 5,000 people in long-term care facilities will get a dose, along with the last appointments for health service staff.
The health service is expecting to take delivery of a million vaccines in April, with a “significant” consignment due in from AstraZeneca in the days ahead.
Since December there have been over three-quarters of a million injections, with 211,000 people having received their second shot.
In the UK
People living in England can now meet in groups of six outdoors as lockdown restrictions are eased.
The “stay at home” order has ended, and people are being encouraged to head outside while the weather is nice.
UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, says he’s glad outdoor sports can resume.