Shops and hairdressers to reopen for fully vaccinated people at the start of May

Government sources are also exploring the option of bringing forward the easing of travel restrictions, depending on the level of the virus in the community
Shops and hairdressers to reopen for fully vaccinated people at the start of May

The reopening of non-essential retail and services will be done on a phased basis and could form part of a so-called vaccine bonus, according to Government sources.

The Government is set to reopen shops and hairdressers from the first week in May, but may initially limit access to fully vaccinated people.

The reopening of non-essential retail and services will be done on a phased basis and could form part of a so-called vaccine bonus, according to Government sources.

The Government is also hoping to bring forward the easing of travel restrictions to allow people travel nationwide from June and not July as had been previously indicated, but this will be dependent on the level of the virus in the community.

While click and collect is now expected to return on May 4, ministers hope that a full reopening of shops would come around the middle of next month.

Senior Government sources added that they hope to also allow hairdressers and beauty salons reopen in mid-May, but this may be delayed by a few weeks.

"A lot of older people will be vaccinated by them so you could open up services for them. You could look at doing an incremental approach for those who are fully vaccinated," one senior source said.

It is anticipated that gyms could get back up and running at the end of May.

However, a decision on the next steps for reopening the country is not expected to be made by Cabinet for another three weeks.

One senior minister said: "Everything won't reopen with a bang; it will be on a phased basis, just like this month. But I think if things continue the way they are, we have a very good chance that we will get back into shops in the month of May."

However, the minister stressed that the movement of people will increase with the full reopening of schools next week, which would have to be monitored ahead of any final decision.

It comes as senior official Liz Canavan said that a number of areas are being considered for reopening but only if the public health landscape allows it.

“If we can hold firm for a little bit longer, and if the health situation allows, a further of easing of restrictions will be considered from May 4," she said.

Liz Canavan, assistant secretary to the Department of An Taoiseach, said that a number of areas are being considered for reopening, but only if the public health landscape allows it. Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Liz Canavan, assistant secretary to the Department of An Taoiseach, said that a number of areas are being considered for reopening, but only if the public health landscape allows it. Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach said that he is "of course" open to adding EU countries to the list of those which require mandatory hotel quarantine if advised to do so.

An inter-departmental meeting of senior officials on hotel quarantine concluded on Wednesday with no decision on adding countries to the list. 

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said that it was continuing to engage in the discussions, despite indications that officials had expressed hesitancy with continuing with talks at one point.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also confirmed that the portal for booking vaccines would open in the week of April 19, with HSE chief Paul Reid saying that vaccinations could start that week. He said that nearly 4m doses of vaccine will arrive into the country before July.

The health minister, however, could not say how many people will be vaccinated this week and has yet to set timelines for when various age groups will receive their first jab.

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