Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the Government is looking at a continuation of a high level of restrictions to the Easter period.
He said that remains to be determined by Government, which is revising the Living with Covid Plan, adding that the week commencing 20 February will bring clarity.
The Taoiseach said the RTÉ Investigates programme this week revealed the extraordinary pressures faced by healthcare staff during the third wave of the pandemic and those pressures have to be relieved.
“We don’t want that situation happening again in our hospitals,” he said.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the Taoiseach said schools and construction are the priority, and it makes sense to take a cautious and conservative approach to reopening society, particularly as the vaccination programme is being rolled out.
Mr Martin said the phased return to school means that there will not be a million people on the move at the one time.