Leaders to discuss move to Level 5 amid fears lockdown could last more than six weeks

Coalition party leaders will meet today to give detailed consideration to a fresh call from the State’s public health team to increase restrictions to the highest possible level.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has again recommended a move to Level 5 as case levels of Covid-19 continue to deteriorate.

While it has been suggested that Level 5 restrictions could last six weeks, senior Government figures have expressed concern that another lockdown could in fact last much longer, with major economic implications.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has described the situation as “very serious” while Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned that a second lockdown would be a lot more difficult than the first. Sources close to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan have indicated that he also has concerns about the economic impact and length of another lockdown.

Nphet is understood to have written to the Government with warnings about what could happen if its advice is not followed. There is a high level of concern among Ministers, however, that the warnings do not take into account other health services or the economy.

Furthermore, the Government believes it can quickly add capacity to hospitals and intensive care units.