Construction and children's sports key Govt priorities

Updated / Saturday, 20 Mar 2021 19:05

A plan to allow those building homes to return to work is top of the Government's priority list

By Mícheál Lehane

The return to work of upwards of 14,000 more construction workers, along with the resumption of group sports training for children, next month have been identified as key Government priorities.

Ministers will next week begin detailed considerations around what Covid-19 related restrictions might be eased on 5 April.

Top of the list is a plan to allow those building homes to return to work.

However, the remaining 20,000 construction workers may not get back on sites until late April or early May.

The other focus for Government is on lifting restrictions on sports training for those aged under 18 years.

This may involve new protocols being drawn up for parents dropping children to training.

While there are likely to be discussions on the return of golf and tennis, these sports are viewed as less of a priority at present.

The return of inter-county GAA training will also be discussed.

Government also believes that it has to extend the 5km limit, but any change may fall short of allowing unrestricted travel within a county.

The limit could instead be extended to 20km, with some in Government believing that any extension less than this could spark public anger.

However, ahead of next week's discussions there is a realisation in political circles that the National Public Health Emergency Team is going to urge Government to take an extremely cautious approach to any relaxation of restrictions.

The Covid-19 case numbers over the coming days will also impact on decisions amid some indications that those figures could rise in period ahead.

Read more:
Latest coronavirus stories

There have been nine further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health this evening.

Seven of the deaths occurred this month, with two taking place in February. The ages of those who died ranged from 64 to 95 years old.

A further 525 additional cases of the virus were also confirmed.

In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, 159 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the the last 24 hours, while there were no deaths reported.

Yesterday the Taoiseach said he will not speculate beyond what he has already said on whether restrictions will continue after 5 April, or will be relaxed at that point.

Speaking in Cork, Mr Martin said the Government will map out for the public in advance of 5 April what will happen from that point on.

"We do understand and get it that people are fed up," Mr Martin said.

"I am not going to speculate, but we will give people clear indications in advance of April 5th as to how we see April panning out and I don't believe in speculating beyond that."