Ireland's restaurants may be forced to close all the way through to May, according to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
He had been asked on Ireland AM radio if May was a realistic time to expect the lockdown to end, but responded that he was not ruling out that restaurants and pubs could still be closed by then.
"If we've learned anything, this virus behaves you know and evolves and changes. So, I think we can't make predictions that far out," he said.
Mr Martin added that "it will be well into next month before the majority of Covid restrictions are relaxed" and that Ireland was "nowhere near where we need to be at present" if it restrictions were to be scaled back.
That means that Level 5 restrictions will last until at least the back end of February with retail outlets shut and all hospitality closed. St Patrick's Day celebrations in March have already been cancelled for the second year in a row.
Ireland's restaurateurs have been hard hit by the pandemic and, according to their industry advocacy group, will now need significant financial stimulus from the government to be able to stay afloat.
The chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins, explained that Irish restaurants would soon be reduced the the financial state of start-ups and would be unable to function without debt relief from the government.
"By then most businesses will be closed for so long they will have a huge amount of legacy debt. Business supports are good but don't cover all the debt and the bills. What we are looking for is debt forgiveness."
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, reiterated the compliance that was needed from people to give Ireland a chance of reopening sooner rather than later.
"The number of cases and deaths that we are reporting today and the persisting high incidence rate of Covid-19 across the country shows that we cannot underestimate the highly infectious nature of this disease and the impact that it can have on families and communities."
"The virus spreads through close contacts, through the congregation of people. We need everyone to stay at home as much as possible, and to work from home, where possible."
"You should not meet up with friends or loved ones, unless you are caring for them. If you go out for exercise, you need to stay within 5km from your home, wear a face covering where appropriate and wash your hands when you return home to protect yourself from infection."
"If you are Covid positive you should self-isolate and stay at home, in your room, avoiding contact with other people. This is to protect the other people that you live with."
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