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NPHET recommends entire country moves to Level 5 for six weeks

Coronavirus 1,205 new cases

Questions have been raised though over whether Ireland could provide tests for travellers arriving without a negative test, but the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has expressed concerns over a "rapid-testing" method.

Senior Government officials will hold a "crunch" meeting on Saturday to consider the recommendation, according to The Irish Times. While Mr. Martin stressed that he did not want to place a timeline on the decision, he also noted that he wanted to have the situation "well documented and well prepared".

"The Government will give this very detailed consideration examining all aspects", he said.

Unlike the previous Level 5 recommendation of nearly two weeks ago, this move by NPHET wasn't unexpected in Government Buildings.

A number of Government sources have confirmed details of the recommendations to RTÉ News.

Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal are now on level 4 restrictions. Household visits were also restricted to essential circumstances across the rest of the Republic, which is in Level 3 of the five-level coronavirus alert system.

Dr Tony Holohan said on Thursday that "all key indicators" of COVID-19 had accelerated since the last meeting of NPHET.

However, the NPHET recommendation will put further political pressure on an escalation of restrictions.

He said the Cabinet is not due to meet today'.

It's a hard balancing act but will the government set aside the public health officials' recommendations for a second time?

The minister said the Cabinet may "modify" the Level 5 restrictions so they are not as severe as set out to allow people to travel farther from home.

Mr Varadkar said the public will want assurances on how long another lockdown will last and what the targets are for unravelling Covid measures once they are introduced.

Moving to Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19 would mean no social or organised gatherings, indoors or outdoors. It is believed that, for a second time, public health officials have recommended an immediate move to Level 5 for the entire country.