Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Government will ask the Chief Medical Officer to consider relaxing the rules around restriction of movements for fully vaccinated close contacts of confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Speaking on his way into Government Buildings for a meeting of the three party leaders, Mr Varadkar said the rules were causing problems across public services, industry and critical infrastructure.

He said the Government was examining the possibility of changing the rules for fully-vaccinated close contacts with no symptoms and negative antigen tests.

Mr Varadkar also said the Omicron wave is unfolding as anticipated and is serious with a large number of cases.

But he added that it is also clear the variant is less severe, although the sheer number of cases has led to an increase in hospital admissions but not a significant rise in ICU.

The Tánaiste said the statistics are not giving a full picture due to bank holidays and testing capacity issues.

He also said schools would go back on Thursday as planned.

Latest coronavirus stories

Today's meeting between Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan comes ahead of a full Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

Public health advice in relation to people who are contacts of a person with Covid-19

Confirmed cases of Covid-19 reached record highs in recent days. Yesterday, the Department of Health reported a further 16,986 cases of Covid-19.

The surge in transmission also led to thousands of close contacts restricting their movements, which is having an impact across the economy.

Party leaders will consider recent changes in US advice, which significantly relaxed the advice for close contacts.

Government sources also indicated there is no appetite to increase the current level of restrictions,
with cases expected to peak shortly.

Meanwhile, Minister for Education Norma Foley will meet public health officials, teachers' unions and school management to discuss the reopening of schools.

Separately, Iarnród Éireann said a number of its rail services have been cancelled this week, because of Covid-19 and close contact absences.

The cancellations will affect some trains on the Newbridge, Carlow, and Hazelhatch lines, between today and Friday.