People wearing face masks
© Gareth Chaney/Collins
People wearing face masks on Dublin’s Grafton Street.
Reduction of social contacts including in people's homes will be the "key ingredient" across all levels of the Government's mid-term plan because the disease is most prominent in homes, the Taoiseach has said.

Micheál Martin said that keeping schools and third level institutions open will be the Government's top priority, ahead of pubs, aviation and sports.

There would be restrictions across all five proposed levels in the proposals for the next six months to be announced on Tuesday, "even in the home because that's where the prevalence of the disease is most dangerous and still alive in too many households".

Mr Martin's comments come as cases of coronavirus rise in Ireland with a particular focus on the capital where the disease is said to be spreading rapidly in households.

Gardaí said on Sunday they had stepped up high-visibility patrols in the capital as medical authorities warned the city and county faced a "critical moment" in the fight against the virus.

The Government's plan is expected to see the entire State placed on Level 2 status, the second most benign of the five levels. This is despite current case high levels in Dublin warranting Level 3 at least. Government sources said Dublin was likely to be included with all other counties on Level 2, with some text to acknowledge higher levels of the virus in the capital.

Over time the plan will allow for different regions to be at different levels, depending on the situation on the ground, sources said. However, no more than two levels would be allowed at any one time in the State, given its small geographic size.

At Level 2 status, sports grounds would allow no more than 50 supporters, according to National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) advice to the Cabinet. However, Ministers at the Cabinet sub-committee on Thursday expressed strong disagreement at those low numbers and the plan is expected to increase the numbers allowed under each level significantly, to several hundred under Level 2.

The Government is also considering allowing larger attendance, up to 5,000 at large stadia, but numbers have not been finalised.