As has been the case throughout this pandemic, NPHET considers a range of different indicators of disease and compliance, and considers those indicators in context, when making its recommendations to Government. There is not one indicator or one specific number which signals that it is safe to ease restrictions, and this will continue to be the case in the coming weeks and months.
The Government's updated plan for managing COVID-19, The Path Ahead, states that the “situation will be subject to ongoing review taking account of the evolving epidemiological situation and available evidence in relation to vaccine deployment, uptake and effectiveness”. The document states that the focus of assessment, based on public health advice, will be on achieving much lower levels of disease prevalence (case numbers/incidence) that can be managed and controlled by public health; that the R number is such that we can be confident we can continue to suppress the disease (e.g. at or below 1); low levels of hospital and critical care occupancy allowing the safe resumption of non-Covid care; ongoing and steady progress with the vaccine rollout such that the most vulnerable are protected and emerging information regarding variants of concern.
The Path Ahead is available online: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c4876-covid-19-resilience-and-recovery-2021-the-path-ahead/.