Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said it will be “a different Christmas” in Ireland this year, but not to expect any visits from the Gardaí over the festive period.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One, the Fianna Fáil leader said the country would have a staged lifting of Level 5 restrictions, with a “tweaked” Level 3 expected as the government works on its “exit plan”.

“I think we’ve learned a bit from Level 2, as it operated from the summer onwards. I think we’ve learned what worked and what didn’t work,” he claimed.

“And I think that will inform I think people’s behaviours leading into Christmas, I get the sense from public they know what will be different, that not everybody if I use the phrase will be on the lash for Christmas.

“You know, we won’t have the office parties that we would people might have had in previous years.”

Responding to concerns that Gardaí could visit people’s homes as families gather for Christmas, the Taoiseach said “that will not be happening.”

He also said churches would likely be open under new Level 3 arrangements, but that some counties may not be able to come out of Level 5 immediately when restrictions expire on December 1st, saying the figures in places like Donegal are still “concerning”.

Mr. Martin re-iterated yesterday’s advice from Leo Varadkar that people should wait to book flights home for Christmas, and that advice would be forthcoming at the end of this month.

He pointed to European countries that are still in “the red zone”, saying authorities here would prefer if people did not arrive from those places into Ireland at this point.

Asked about a possible Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, the Taoiseach said “a lot depends on regulatory bodies”, but this his “guesstimate” was that it could be dispensed in the first half of 2021.