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The cautious approach will continue until a substantial level of vaccination has been achieved
The Irish government yesterday announced the phased easing of some restrictions through the months of April and May. The decision has been taken following an assessment of the current Covid-19 situation in the country, and is in line with COVID-19 Resilience & Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead plan.
According to the government press release, the cautious approach to reopening will continue until a substantial level of vaccination has been reached. Until then, people are encouraged to stay local and choose outdoor options where possible.
Restrictions to be lifted
The announced restrictions will be lifted as follows:
From 30 March
- Vaccine Bonus: Fully vaccinated people (meaning two weeks have passed since receiving second shot) may meet with fully vaccinated members of one other household indoors without wearing masks or staying 2 metres apart.
From 12 April
- All schools will resume classroom education.
- Two households can meet up with one another outside but not in their private gardens. Safe behaviours like social distancing and mask wearing in crowded outdoor spaces should be observed.
- Current 5km limit will be scrapped to enable travel within own county or within 20km of residence if crossing county boundaries.
- All housing construction can restart, as well as early-learning and childcare projects.
From 19 April
Elite sports will be expanded to include:
- training for and playing of senior-level National Gaelic Games Leagues.
- high performing athletes, as approved by Sport Ireland.
From 26 April
- Outdoor sports facilities can reopen (e.g. pitches, golf courses and tennis courts).
- Outdoor visitor attractions, including zoos, open pet farms, and heritage sites can reopen. Amusement parks will stay closed.
- Outdoor non-contact training for juniors in pods of 15 can resume, including dance.
- Funeral attendance will increase to 25 on compassionate grounds.
From 4 May (changes under consideration, depending on public health advice)
- Construction activity to fully resume.
- Non-essential retail to reopen on a phased basis, beginning with click and collect and outdoor retail (e.g. garden centres/nurseries).
- Personal Services (hair salons, barbers) to recommence on a staggered basis.
- Museums, Galleries & Libraries to reopen.
- Religious services to recommence on a staggered basis.
Vaccination programme scaled up
Close to 3 million doses of vaccine are set to be administered by the end of May, nearly 5 million doses by early July and 6 million doses by the end of July.
In his address to the nation over the phased relaxation of restrictions, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin said, quoted by RTÉ, that depending on vaccination progress, "we will look at the reopening of hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses in the month of June". He predicted that by July or August the "vast majority of the population will have significant protection against the virus allowing for significant opportunities to re-open even further".
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