Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said there will be "no cliff edge" for businesses who have been forced to remain closed because of Covid-19.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week, Mr Donohoe said as long as businesses are required to be shut for public health reasons the Government will provide support. 

"For as long as businesses remain closed, we recognise the heightened obligation to them." 

He said the "strong supports" in place are in recognition of the strain on businesses and the need to lay foundations to allow employers to reopen when they can do so. 

He said week after week new supports have been put in place and to date €5 billion has been paid out to assist employees and employers.

 "We will continue to put in place the strongest schemes that we can," Mr Donohoe said. 

Mr Donohoe said he knows many people are wondering will things ever get any better, will they be able to meet family again, and wondering if they will get their job back or their business reopened, he said he hopes the Government will be able to bring certainty when clarity is available to them.

He said that certainty is hard to come by now with this disease as it is "constantly changing". 

Mr Donohoe defended the Government's communication of plans to deal with Covid to date and said any further reopening of society will be cautious. 

He acknowledged the stress, anxiety and fear among people and that those feelings have been heightened in recent days and weeks.

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"We are in a contest with a disease and what we have underway now is a campaign between the number of injections we can offer in our country of the vaccine and the number of infections of this disease taking place." 

The Minister said he understands as more questions are answered about a changing disease it can cause further anxiety. 

"That is why next week the Government will be publishing its next phase of our plan on how the country can respond to and ultimately be successful in beating this disease," he said.

He refused to be drawn on when restrictions will continue until, but more information will be given when Cabinet has concluded deliberations on the plan.

He was not able to clarify which classes will be returning to school first but referred to the guidance to date which states the particular impact on "the youngest girls and boys" in school and those getting ready for their Leaving Certificate.

 "It is fair to conclude that in the early days we will prioritise the needs of those students." 

He said within the new Living with Covid plan to be launched next week, the Government will outline what will happen after that.

He said the reopening of society will be in the context of the vaccination programme getting stronger and stronger and in the context of relieving pressure on the hospitals.