The Coalition party leaders have bought themselves some time following yesterday's deliberations.

They now have two days to decide on what additional Covid-19 restrictions to impose on the country and, crucially, how to explain it all to a discombobulated public.

While the National Public Health Emergency Team has advocated introducing Level 5 restrictions - the highest on the scale - there is little expectation in political circles that such a recommendation will be adopted.

So the question left hanging is this: what additional measures will be imposed to tackle the evident rise in infections?

In a statement last night - following the discussion of an earlier briefing from public health officials - the Government stressed it was seeking to strike a balance between "the overarching aim of protecting lives and livelihoods".

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, the only minister to speak to the media after the meeting, said the Government faced a very difficult and complex decision - given the range of variables and impacts.

But what does that mean?

There are lots of rumours swirling around, but it is incumbent on the Government to give clear and detailed explanations no later than tomorrow.

Let's be honest - this situation can’t be a surprise to the Cabinet.

NPHET suggested Level 5 restrictions a couple of weeks back and, since then, the Covid-19 infections have been rising.

So citizens would expect that the Government has done its homework since then and developed a strategic plan on what can and should be done.

It is, undoubtedly, an extremely difficult decision - balancing public health in the time of a pandemic with the catastrophic economic impacts of once again shuttering the retail sector.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs are on the line.

But the Government is compelled to act at this juncture and needs to bring the population with them.

Commenting shortly after last night’s meeting, the Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald wrote on Twitter that "jobs, livelihoods and lives hang in the balance".

But, she argued, there has been "no direction, comment or reassurance from Government."

The Dublin Central TD was clearly raising a flag that a political price will be paid if the Government gets this decision wrong.

One tangential observation - the list of attendees at yesterday’s meeting wasn’t impressive from a gender point of view.

The all-male gathering included Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Climate Minister Eamon Ryan, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath, HSE chief Paul Reid, Secretary General at the Department of the Taoiseach Martin Fraser and NPHET members Dr Tony Holohan, Dr Ronan Glynn and Professor Philip Nolan.


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