Simon Harris confirms Cabinet will agree to raise restriction level tomorrow

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has said Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions are not working.

“The Government will act tomorrow. Action will be decisive and it will be right across the country,” he said.

Mr Harris said Government needed to balance restrictions “with our honest view on what people can bear or sustain”.

He said it was clear now that virus was at such a level that a county-by-county approach would not work. He said the trajectory was causing huge concerns to public health officials.

Mr Harris told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that the Government needed to take other factors into account. He said domestic violence increased three fold during March and April. He said these restrictions would be different.

A meeting of Government leaders broke up last night without any decision on the level of restrictions to be put in place in the country.

There is no Cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday, with Cabinet to meet on Monday to discuss the next steps.

Senior sources said that on Saturday six of the most senior politicians in the State examined the options available to the Government and the implications of the decisions to be taken, amid concerns over the rate of growth of the coronavirus in the Republic.

The meeting was preceded by a private consultation between the State’s top two public health doctors and the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin. There were briefings provided by senior members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and HSE chief executive Paul Reid.

Speaking as he left the meeting, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the Goverment shares concerns around the increasing numbers, which he said are also occuring across Europe and the rest of the world.

“Government has to balance up a whole range of variables. Yes we have to look at the impact of the virus but also the impacts in so many different ways on society and how we respond to it,” he said.

A Government press statement following the meeting said presentations were given on the situation across the country concerning the virus as well as on the economic, employment and society wide implications of moving to more severe restrictions.