Taoiseach to address nation on removal of Covid restrictions as Donnelly says today is 'a good day'

The Government will this evening announce a staged reopening of society on "a day when hope breaks out among society in Ireland”.
Taoiseach to address nation on removal of Covid restrictions as Donnelly says today is 'a good day'

Micheál Martin will outline the Government's plans on the following pandemic regulations

The Taoiseach is due to speak at 6pm this evening to inform the country of the plan to remove Covid-19 restrictions.

Micheál Martin will outline the Government's plans on the following pandemic regulations.

Hospitality

All accommodation including hotels, B&Bs, self-catering, and hostels should reopen in June.

Outdoor dining and beer gardens will be allowed to operate from June.

Pubs and restaurants will not be allowed to serve indoors until at least July.

Vaccine bonus

Three fully vaccinated individuals or households will be permitted to meet indoors from May. 

Fully vaccinated people will also be able to meet up with one other household that is not vaccinated provided they are not at risk of serious health difficulties.

Transport

Public transport will increase to 50% capacity from May 10.

Religious services

Up to 50 people will be able to attend all religious services from May, provided they can socially distance themselves.

Funerals and weddings

While 50 people will be allowed to attend religious wedding services, just six will be permitted to go to the reception if it is indoors.

This number will increase to 15 for outdoor wedding receptions and a marquee will be considered as being outside. Indoor wedding receptions will increase to 25 people from June.

Construction

To return fully from May 10

Non-essential retail

Click and collect from May 10, reopen May 17

Sport

Adult outdoor training will be allowed in pods of 15 from May.

Gyms and indoor swimming pools will reopen in June, however, no group classes will be allowed and instead individual sessions will be permitted.

Cabinet Ministers have approved the plan for re-opening the economy over the next few months.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that today is "a good day" with measures which will "bring a lot of relief to people".

However, Mr Donnelly said that the daily case numbers of the virus were still high and urged people not to go beyond the measures announced today.

He said that he will be "nervous through May", knowing that June's opening is contingent on viral spread staying steady.

Ireland 'months away' from opening up to international tourism – Leo Varadkar

2:20pm

Speaking during Leaders' Questions, Leo Varadkar said a plan was needed for the return to international travel and to protect the aviation sector. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Speaking during Leaders' Questions, Leo Varadkar said a plan was needed for the return to international travel and to protect the aviation sector. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Ireland is "many months away" from opening up to international tourism, the Tánaiste has said.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions, Leo Varadkar said a plan was needed for the return to international travel and to protect the aviation sector.

His comments came against the backdrop of the European Commission voting in favour of the introduction of a digital green certificate, which could pave the way for broader movement in the bloc, though some countries appear further along the road towards reopening for international tourism than Ireland.

However, it is just too soon for that return to international travel, unfortunately. The pandemic is raging worse around the world than ever. We cannot escape that reality.

"The world in a few months will be divided between heavily vaccinated states, unvaccinated and those that have adopted an elimination strategy where they are safe, but closed off.

"Travelling between those countries will be difficult. But we're not there yet. We're many months away from there."

Government to sign off on 'incredibly optimistic' easing of Covid restrictions

11:13am

The Government will this evening announce a staged reopening of society on "a day when hope breaks out among society in Ireland”.

The announcement will see the quicker-than-anticipated end to a ban on intercounty travel, allowing people to travel across the country from May 10 - less than two weeks from now.

From that date, click and collect retail services will return, 50 people will be allowed at religious services, adult non-contact sports training can resume outdoors, personal services, museums, libraries and galleries will open and three households can meet outdoors.

The so-called "vaccine bonus" will also pick up pace in May, with unvaccinated people allowed to travel across the country to visit vaccinated grandparents and parents, with rules allowing a fully vaccinated household to meet indoors with an unvaccinated one.

A further increase in household visits, allowing two unvaccinated households to mix indoors from mid-June is also being considered.

The easing of restrictions, called "incredibly optimistic" by one government source, will see hotels reopen ahead of the June bank holiday weekend on June 2, with outdoor hospitality on June 7. 

However, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has reacted angrily to this announcement, asking for the scientific basis for allowing hotel restaurants to open before indoor dining in their establishments.

For pubs, the controversial €9 meal rule will be axed, meaning gastropubs and 'wet pubs' will open at the same time in June, however, restaurants and bars will only be allowed to serve customers outdoors until at least July. Picture: Clare Keogh
For pubs, the controversial €9 meal rule will be axed, meaning gastropubs and 'wet pubs' will open at the same time in June, however, restaurants and bars will only be allowed to serve customers outdoors until at least July. Picture: Clare Keogh

Public transport will increase to 50% capacity from May 10.

Up to 50 people will be able to attend all religious services from May, provided they can socially distance themselves. 

While 50 people will be allowed to attend religious wedding services, just six will be permitted to go to the reception if it is indoors.

This number will increase to 15 for outdoor wedding receptions and a marquee will be considered as being outside. Indoor wedding receptions will increase to 25 people from June.

Gyms and indoor swimming pools will reopen in June, however, no group classes will be allowed and instead individual sessions will be permitted.

A small number of fans may be allowed to return to sporting events by July, sources said. It is part of the package being debated at Cabinet.

The optimism around the plan hinges on the rollout of vaccinations. 

Pembroke Street recently pedestrianised as part of the Reimagining Cork City Programme ahead of this summers outdoor trading. Picture Clare Keogh
Pembroke Street recently pedestrianised as part of the Reimagining Cork City Programme ahead of this summers outdoor trading. Picture Clare Keogh

Cabinet will be told today that the six million dose mark is planned to be hit by July. 

The vaccine targets include plans to see all over 70s fully vaccinated in May and the majority of over-60s having received their first.

The Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the reopening is in line with public health advice but offers hope.

“I think today is one of those moments when hope will start breaking through amongst society in Ireland, that there is a pathway out of this awful pandemic that we’ve been experiencing now for over a year,” he added.

“It’s staged, it’s incremental, it’s consistent with public health advice, but it is very hopeful."

HSE working on new version of vaccine rollout

by NIAMH GRIFFIN

The HSE continues to work on a new version of the vaccine rollout, according to its chief executive, but will stick to the age-sequencing system.

Version 27 of the rollout is now expected “early next week”, Paul Reid told a briefing on Thursday morning.

This will take into account new recommendations this week, including for pregnant women and the use of two vaccines for the over-50s only.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) recommended that pregnant women between 14 to 36 weeks gestation be offered an mRNA vaccine – Pfizer or Moderna – if suitable. 

It also said the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines can be used for over 50s.

More in this section

Let Me Tell You

Let Me Tell You is a new bespoke podcast series from 

Logo IE

Hosts Daniel McConnell and Paul Hosford take a look back at some of the most dramatic moments in recent Irish political history from the unique perspective of one of the key players involved.

Bespoke political podcast series from

Logo IE
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

Execution Time: 0.257 s