Pubs and restaurants might not open until the middle of the summer according to An Taoiseach.

Micheál Martin has told RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta that the public might have to wait until the summer before major parts of the hospitality industry are allowed to trade again.

“We don’t foresee that (the re-opening of pubs and restaurants etc) before the middle of the summer,” Mr Martin told RTÉ.

“What the public health authorities are saying is that we stick with this until the end of April, then we reflect on the situation and make decisions about the months ahead.

“There won’t be much of a change (soon) because the numbers are still too high.”

Explaining that the government intends to reopen schools on a phased basis, the Taoiseach warned parents that the process could take time. .

“It will be slow, we’ll be cautious, because we have to monitor the effect on the virus,” he said.

Schools and childcare facilities are to begin re-opening from next month after the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) advised it happen on a staggered basis between March and Easter.

Speaking yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the public would have to “dig deep” as they await a return to normality.

“We are on the right track again – cases, hospitalisations, ICUs numbers are all falling,” he told RTÉ.

“But they’re still high, they’re almost as high as they were at the peak of the first wave and that’s why we need to proceed with caution, particularly with the B117 variant dominant in the country.

“We got advice from Nphet yesterday – their advice is we can open schools and childcare on a phased basis over the course of March and through to the Easter break.

“We are asking people to dig deep for a few more weeks.

“We will see three really good things in March, first is the return of kids to school and childcare all across Ireland, the second is the vaccine programme being ramped up.

“We are also going to see hospitals relieved of pressure throughout the course of March,” he claimed.