"Intense discussions" on how the country will exit Level 5 restrictions are "necessary" and are under way, the Minister for Finance has said, describing it as a "decision of magnitude". 

Paschal Donohoe said the Government is hearing assessments from NPHET, adding it is important to acknowledge that the country is making progress on beating the virus. 

"If you are looking at all indicators where we were a few weeks ago we are in a better place but not as good a place as we would like to be," Mr Donohoe stated.

The minister said the number of deaths from Covid-19 and those in ICU with the virus will also be considered when the Government makes its decision. 

He said people need to look beyond Christmas and be aware the medium-term goal is to get the spread of the disease down to the lowest level possible. 

While acknowledging that Christmas is "so important" from a well-being and family perspective, he said from an economic point of view, business owners say they want certainty beyond December 25. 

He said a collective decision needs to be made to protect people's well-being and health and what is right for the economy beyond Christmas. 

Reflecting on individuals and businesses who are being impacted by Covid-19, he said they are being supported by the wage subsidy scheme, financial supports for businesses who are closed and a lower VAT rate.

He said these measures remain in place to deal with the uncertainty the country is facing.