The Taoiseach has rejected claims that there is confusion or mixed messaging over the recent measures to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty had earlier said there was a dysfunction and chaos in Government that was undermining public confidence.

Speaking in Cork this afternoon, Micheál Martin insisted "the overall message is very, very clear".

He said the measures announced by the Government on Tuesday are aimed at ensuring there is a balance of keeping people at work and keeping community transmission as low as possible.

The Taoiseach also defended the reopening policy for schools when he was challenged by a teacher about it on the streets of Skibbereen.

The woman said the current plan, to send children "fully back" to the classroom, meant that there would be "no safe social distancing".

The teacher said she would be going into classrooms in Dublin where there were "28, 29, 30 kids" and "that is criminal". She urged Mr Martin to reconsider how schools would operate.

The Taoiseach said he had been getting "positive" feedback from teachers all over the country and that "schools have been very innovative" in introducing additional measures to help ensure that students and teachers can return to schools safely.

Yesterday, Green Party leader and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan acknowledged that there were contradictions in the advice relating to limits on indoor gatherings compared with schools having classes of 20-30 pupils.

However, the Taoiseach said today that "there is no confusion about the fundamental issue" of trying to protect lives and livelihoods and stop the increase in cases of the virus.

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"I would invite everyone to look at Ronan Glynn, the Chief Medical Officer's video presentation yesterday evening," Mr Martin said.

"The numbers have gone up substantially in the last two weeks compared to a month earlier. That's it. The numbers have gone up. We have to respond," he added.

The Taoiseach said that intervening early enough, as the numbers were going up, would prevent the Government having to take more significant action later.

The Government must balance keeping people at work, so that the country does not have to "revert to another lockdown", and so "community transmission must be kept as low as possible", Mr Martin added.

He said that "we are going to have to evolve and adapt to situations as they develop" in relation to children being at school.

"Looking at the overall well-being of the child I believe passionately that the reopening of schools is an important milestone to be achieved, notwithstanding the difficulties.

"I think we are going to have to evolve and adapt to situations as they develop, and likewise in Europe this is occurring as well," he said.

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Mr Martin said he does not envisage gardaí going into households, but said the Attorney General is working with Government departments on preparing legislation following Tuesday's announcement.

The Fianna Fáil leader said he will not be recalling the Dáil, as he believes that will not be necessary.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion said she has confidence in the school system and everybody involved in it that they can roll out the reopening of schools.

Asked whether it was right to reopen schools when no more than six people can meet indoors in other circumstances, Josepha Madigan said she appreciated people's concerns, but the Government does not have an option and it has to reopen schools.

She said education is a right and has to be provided as such.

Ms Madigan said a school is a controlled environment and once there is adequate cleaning, PPE and social distancing then people need to have to have faith in schools, parents, and teachers to ensure it is rolled out.

Asked if she accepted that the messaging from Government has been confusing in recent weeks, she said there has been a lack of synergy in certain circumstances and that had to be eradicated.

The minister said the situation is evolving so rapidly that it could be difficult to keep up with new advice from NPHET and implement it into a cohesive plan, but she said ministers have to ensure that communication is looked upon and there are learnings that can be taken from the last few days.

Govt message deteriorating - Doherty

Earlier Mr Doherty, who is also a member of the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, said the messaging at the start of the pandemic was clear and concise, but that has now deteriorated and contradictory information is coming from different departments.

He said people cannot understand why spectators cannot attend sports, but people can still go to the beach or places such as Tayto Park where thousands can congregate.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said would like to invite the GAA and the FAI to appear before the committee, but it was vital the Minister for Education appears before it as well.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn are be questioned at a meeting of the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response next Wednesday.

Three sessions will take place with the Health Service Executive, the National Public Health Emergency Team and the Minister and Department of Health officials.

Committee chair Michael McNamara said witnesses will be asked to explain the rationale behind recent decisions and the HSE will also be questioned on testing and tracing capacity and waiting times.

Additional reporting Helen Donohoe & Sandra Hurley

The World Health Organization says data to date suggests 80% of Covid-19 infections are mild or asymptomatic; 15% are severe infection requiring oxygen and 5% are critical, requiring ventilation.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person and within two metres of them, to be considered at-risk, or a close contact.