From education to construction and from healthcare to vaccines, here's what's in the Government's Covid-19 "resilience and recovery 2021 - the path ahead" plan.

 Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced that Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions have been extended until 5 April. However, education and childcare are to reopen on a phased basis from next week.

Mr Martin said that the variant that was first detected in the UK "is equivalent to a new virus" and that it is a "major problem".

"It is up to 70% more contagious than the original virus."

He said that the country needs "to be very careful as we take the next steps forward". 


Leaving Cert students will return to school next Monday, 1 March. Primary school students from junior infants to second class will also return on that date.

All remaining primary school students and fifth-year secondary school students will return on 15 March.

All other secondary school students will go back to school on 12 April - after the Easter holidays.


The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme will resume on 8 March.

The Taoiseach said that from 29 March, subject to public health advice, other restrictions would be lifted so that all other children can return to early learning and childcare services.

Non-essential journeys

There is no change to the current 5km restriction on non-essential journeys.

Working from home

The Taoiseach has advised that, where possible, people should continue to work from home.


"We will resume Non-Covid health and social care services over the coming weeks. In advance of 5 April, we will then review the situation. It is critically important that we do not let our guard down," said Mr Martin.

The Taoiseach said people need to use the month of March to drive down Covid-19 case numbers. He said the Government will then look at hospital and ICU occupancy.

"We need to continue to reduce the numbers of people in hospital because of Covid, so that we can protect our health service and allow for non-Covid healthcare to restart safely."

People aged between 16 and 69 who are at very high risk of developing severe Covid-19 have been moved up the list of the Government's vaccine allocation strategy.

Mr Martin said €20m in new funding was agreed today for mental health supports and investment in communities.

Vaccination plan

The Taoiseach said by the end of March, 1.25 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine will have been administered.

He said depending on vaccines arriving as scheduled, they will administer around one million doses per month during April, May and June.

By the end of April, up to 40% of people over 18 will have had their first vaccine dose.

Mr Martin said by the end of May, up to 64% will have had their first dose and by the end of June, up to 82% of adults will have received at least one dose. By the end of June, 55-60% of adults will be fully vaccinated.

The plan also mentions the use of antigen tests. It says the optimal deployment of antigen testing will be finalised for the consideration of Government by mid-March.

Economic supports

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit have all been extended until 30 June.

The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme will also be extended until 30 June as will the suspension of redundancy provisions.

The current commercial rates waiver will also be extended for a further three months.

After 5 April

The Taoiseach said the Government wants to open society as soon and as safely as possible.

Mr Martin said if the country can maintain downward pressure on the disease and keep numbers low, it will then move into the next phase.

He said the Government will examine whether it will be safe to begin easing the restrictions on outdoor gatherings, some sporting activities, the gradual opening of construction and to move on the 5km limit on non-essential journeys.

He said the key concern is the potential impact of increased mobility on the disease.

Mr Martin said he knows the devastation that Covid-19 has brought to so many businesses and livelihoods, "but I also know that the end is now truly in sight".

Next winter

While much of the focus is on the coming months, the plan warns there are "real risks" that we may face the same challenges in controlling the virus and protecting the health service next winter, just like this winter.

It said this is because the impact of vaccines on transmission is unknown and transmission increases in winter months.

The plan says that if the same level of social distancing measures are not in place, other respiratory infections will be in greater circulation, placing a double pressure on the health service.

Additional reporting: Fergal Bowers