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Tony Holohan called to meet Government leaders amid recommendation for move to Level 5

CHIEF Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and senior health officials have been called to Government Buildings to explain why they have recommended the country move to Level 5 restrictions.

he three coalition party leaders and senior Cabinet members are meeting at 3pm today to discuss whether or not to move the country to Level 5 and will question health chiefs on their recommendations.

There are currently no plans to hold a full Cabinet meeting later on Saturday to agree on the introduction of new measure.s However, Ministers privately anticipate that some level of new restrictions are likely in the coming days.

Dr Holohan, his deputy Dr Ronan Glynn and Professor Phil Nolan will brief Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and Ministers Paschal Donohoe, Michael McGrath and Stephen Donnelly on their recommendation that the country move to an effective lockdown for six weeks and take questions.

Dr Holohan and officials are due to brief the Taoiseach privately before 3pm when a wider meeting will take place with the three party leaders and ministers.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid is also set to brief the Government leaders on the capacity of the health service to cope with the current surge in Covid-19 cases.

Their recommendation came in a letter from Dr Holohan to Mr Donnelly on Thursday evening. The Taoiseach has said the letter will be given “active consideration”.

“We’re giving this very active consideration, the situation is very serious,” Mr Martin said in Brussels on Friday. “We will need further action in relation to this. When we respond, it will be a comprehensive response.”

Amid resistance from Ministers to the idea of moving to the highest level restrictions under the Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan, the health officials will set out the rationale for their recommendation.

The six most senior members of the Government will then go through the recommendations and what they mean on a societal level, a business level, an economic level, and the wider implications of the restrictions on society’s mental health and well-being.

One of the key considerations will be the impact of heightened restrictions on non-Covid health services, which were curtailed significantly during the initial lockdown in the spring and are still operating on a restricted basis.

Other considerations will be the financial impact on the various State support schemes, including the new Covid Restrictions Support Scheme and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, by ordering more businesses to close.

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