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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 2 July, 2020
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What do Phase Three and Four of reopening Ireland look like now?

Most activities and trades will now resume from 29 June, in Phase Three.

Shoppers wearing face coverings on O'Connell Street, Dublin.
Shoppers wearing face coverings on O'Connell Street, Dublin.
Image: Leah Farrell

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has announced a second acceleration of Ireland’s roadmap to ease its citizens, businesses and services out of strict restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

On 5 June, Varadkar announced that there would no longer be a Phase Five, and the resumption of other trades and activities would happen sooner than expected.

Today’s announcement means that a number of businesses and activities that would have been scheduled to open in Phase Four can now reopen in Phase Three – less than two weeks away.

Although there are changes being made, the government stresses that anyone who can work from home should continue to work from home wherever possible. 

All non-essential overseas travel should still be avoided, and those who are over 70 or medically vulnerable will still need to be careful.

Here’s what’s now in Phase Three, which starts from 29 June

  • Pubs can reopen if they limit each customer’s visit to 1 hour and 45 minutes, and serve a “substantial” meal worth €9
  • The 20km/in-your-own county limit will be removed, allowing for all inter-county travel
  • Hotels, restaurants, hostels, caravan parks, galleries and museums can reopen
  • Churches and places of worship can reopen
  • Gyms, cinemas and leisure facilities can reopen
  • Hairdressers and barber shops can reopen
  • All sporting activities, including close contact sports and all leagues, can resume, but with limited spectators
  • Driving tests and other driving services
  • Mass gatherings, which includes weddings and funerals, will be limited to 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.

The 14-day quarantine and the requirement to fill in a passenger locator form stays in place until 9 July, Varadkar said, but added that a Cabinet committee discussion would be held on this next week.

Here’s what’s now in Phase Four, which starts from 20 July

  • Pubs that don’t serve food can reopen, as well as hotel bars and casinos
  • If the presence of the virus remains low, mass gatherings of 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors will be allowed.

Cancer screening services are to begin to resume on “a phased basis” from 29 June; Health Minister Simon Harris said that this would begin with CervicalCheck, then with Diabetic Retinopathy.

He said he was still in talks with BreastCheck and BowelScreen about how to recommence the services quicker than the previous timeline of mid-July. He said the HSE and the National Cancer Screening Service would confirm the plans on this before the end of the month.

Outpatient appointments are being offered in urgent cases already at a number of hospitals, Harris said, and an announcement would be made later about non-urgent outpatient appointments.

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On whether larger mass gatherings would be allowed after these phases, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:

“There’s no date set for moving beyond what’s been set out, 100 indoors, 500 outdoors [by 20 July] – all major mass gatherings over 5,000 won’t happen this side of 31 August. But we will review the picture every 3 weeks as we have up until now. And so we’re certainly not saying that it will be a mass of 100 indoors forever. We’ll review the picture in July or August.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that they would be looking at what other countries are doing, and that the ECDC has given guidance that mass gatherings indoors, like nightclubs, are among the activities that will need continuing restrictions.

This accelerated reopening is contingent on businesses and individuals being responsible for theirs’ and others’ safety. Varadkar emphasised that people consider four things in assessing their risk, nicknamed ‘DATE’:

  • Distance: The public is being asked to stay two metres away from others where possible
  • Activity: Wash their hands and wear face coverings in crowded places
  • Time: Be conscious of the length of time they spend with another person
  • Environment: Bear in mind that poorly-ventilated environments are riskier spaces than outdoors.

Members of the public are continuing to be advised to use a face covering (that is, a non-medical face covering) as an additional hygiene measure, when using busy public transport or when in enclosed indoor public areas such as retail outlets.

Health Minister Simon Harris asked the public: “There’s nearly a danger that people at home watching this are waiting for something: ‘I might wear a face covering if it’s the law, maybe I’ll wait for the law’ or ‘I might wear a face covering if the government sends me one in the post’. Please don’t wait, we need you to do this now.”

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