The Tánaiste has said the Government is working on a revised version of the "Living with Covid-19" plan which he hopes will be announced in the week of 22 February.

Leo Varadkar said it had not yet been determined what parts of the economy would reopen.

The Fine Gael leader declined to say when professional services such as hairdressing would reopen, but he added he had put in an order for a hair clippers himself.

While Mr Varadkar said it was impossible to be certain about the reopening, he said schools remain the first priority.

He said there will be a cautious reopening of retail across April, May and June.

Asked about the British government's announcement today regarding quarantine hotels he confirmed that there had been contacts with the UK prior to the announcement.

Mr Varadkar said next week the Government would publish legislation on mandatory quarantine at hotels but he could not give a date for when the hotels would open.

He made the comments at a press conference where he announced new business supports for firms which had been unable to access Government funding until now.

Mr Varadkar said he is "quietly confident that we will have a relatively normal summer and the things we were able to do last summer, we'll be able to do this summer as well".

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, the Tánaiste said he cannot give clarity or certainty because the virus is unpredictable, but in relation to businesses, he said "we're going to see a slow and gradual, conservative and cautious re-opening in the second quarter, across April, May and June".

He said he thinks there will be a domestic tourism season, as there was last year adding they are going to tighten up on international travel to reduce the risk of re-seeding the virus.

He said we have reason to be optimistic but he added that there is nothing precedented or predictable about this pandemic.


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This morning Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the country has some way to go before the current level of restrictions can be eased, adding the Government would bring "greater clarity" on this towards the middle of this month.

Speaking on his way into Cabinet, Mr Martin warned that the response will be conservative and cautious.

He said schools remain a priority and while number of Covid-19 infections are coming down, they need to be lower for essential sectors, such as schools and construction, to reopen.

"First of all, levels are still too high in hospitals," the Taoiseach told reporters.

Mr Martin said the priority is to get infection levels down and the Government will be working on this over the coming week or so, as well as the issue of continuing support for the business sector.

He said: "That will form part of the Cabinet meeting as well today, in terms of additional support to underpin enterprises and companies, so that we can keep employment intact in so far as we possibly can during this pandemic."

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the Government will tell people "long before" 5 March what the next phase will look like, with plans to reopen special education taking priority ahead of the reopening of construction and other workplaces.

Ms McEntee indicated that a final decision on this year's Leaving Certificate will be made in the coming week.

Additional reporting Karen Creed