Stick to the plan - that seems to be the Government's approach to easing restrictions.

The Cabinet will take the big decisions next week, but some things are already clear.

The Taoiseach told his Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators tonight that they could expect restrictions being eased from 4 May including: the reopening of all construction, hairdressers and barbers being prioritised and click and collect non-essential retail.

Earlier, he spoke about his concern for the health and well-being of young people and the need to get them engaged in sport. That suggests the resumption of non-contact sport for under 18's next week, possibly being extended to adults in May.

There was also a strong indication that religious services could resume at some point in May.

RTÉ News understands that the Taoiseach wrote to religious leaders about their concerns regarding the limitations on public worship - saying he would look "positively" on that.

It's possible the issue of outdoor dining could be considered when the Cabinet meets next week.

Beyond May, there could be indications of what to expect in the summer.

Mr Martin re-stated today that the government will be looking at hotels and guest houses re-opening in June.

But there was also caution on show.

For example, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he can't give an indication if inter-county travel restrictions will be lifted in June.

He said he remains confident that indoor dining will be possible this summer but, again, declined to put a date on it.

Looking towards September, the Taoiseach said today that antigen testing will be used to help ensure that 3rd-level students will be back on campus.

Mr Martin said he was keenly aware that young people have missed out a lot over the past two years.

A particular priority for the Government is this: whatever re-opens needs to stay open.

Ministers are firm in the view that they need to end the opening-closing-reopening cycle which has frustrated so many people over the past difficult year.


Latest coronavirus stories