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ANOTHER FRIDAY, ANOTHER big announcement from the government about Covid-19 restrictions.

You’ll find a roundup piece detailing all the measures here.

This is our liveblog from earlier: 

Good afternoon, Rónán Duffy here to bring you though the latest edition of lifting Ireland’s lockdown. 

You may be aware of the sequence by now, as Cabinet discusses and usually rubber-stamps the plans that were essentially decided by the Covid sub-committee yesterday. 

Those decisions were informed by public health advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) which itself had met the day previous. 

As those various steps take place over the course of a number of days, much of the plans are leaked in advance of the announcement. 

Our Political Correspondent Christina Finn has been on the phones and at the gates of Government Buildings to get those leaks and much of what we can expect from the announcement can be found here

Some of the main things we can expect from the Taoiseach’s speech tonight are:

  • A return of non-essential international travel from 19 July
  • Indoor dining in pubs and restaurants from no sooner than 5 July
  • Wedding receptions up to 50 people in July and 100 in August
  • Big changes to live events, with some trial events in a matter of weeks
  • In July, indoor events of 200 people in large venues and 100 in smaller ones
  • Potentially 5,000 spectators in stadiums from August

We’re now also hearing some details of sporting events that will be allowing spectators in the next month. 

It includes, football, rugby, Gaelic games and horse racing:

  • June 11: Leinster v Dragons, RDS
  • June 11: Shamrock Rovers v Finn Harps, Tallaght Stadium
  • June 11: Cork City v Cabinteely, Turners Cross
  • June 20: Camogie league final, Croke Park
  • June 26: Shamrock Rovers v Drogehda
  • June 26: Morton Stadium National Athletics Championships
  • June 25 or 26 or 27: Irish Derby meeting, The Curragh

On travel, not only has Transport Minister Eamon Ryan suggested that Ireland will sign up to the EU Digital Green Cert system from July, we also now know that France, Belgium and Luxembourg are also set to be removed from Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine list. 

There’s already been some reaction to that news from the EU’s Justice Commissioner:

Under the plans, the EU Green Cert would certify that someone travelling within the EU has either been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, has a negative test result, or has recovered from Covid-19.

Member States may introduce their own measures on top of this, so we will have to wait and see exactly how Ireland is planning on adopting the system.

Something we will hopefully have some clarity on later. 

One travel change we will not be seeing is an immediate return of the Common Travel Area with Britain. 

Speaking earlier today, Tánaiste Leo Vardakar said that due to concerns about the India variant, there will still be restrictions on people travelling from Britain to Ireland.

“There are real concerns about the prevalence of the Indian variant in Britain. It’s now the dominant variant of Britain. Over 50% of cases appear to be this B.1617 variant. That’s something we’re concerned about,” Varadkar told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland

For that reason, we’re not in the position to restore the Common Travel Area just yet.

So, far about 7,000 cases of the India variant have been identified in the UK, with 97 in Ireland. 

At present, there is no evidence that the India variant is more resistant to vaccines, but there is some evidence that it may be more transmissible than other strains. 

Cabinet meeting has concluded, all the expected easing of measures confirmed.

Taoiseach’s address to come at 6pm but this is what we’re looking at:

Oh an one more exciting titbit is that the venues for the trial live events are set to include the Phoenix Park and Iveagh Gardens. 

Speaking on the way out of the Cabinet meeting, Eamon Ryan said the risks associated with the reopening plans are “low to medium” but that we have “be careful, particularly next month”. 

The plans for hospitality have been known for some days now, with the only new update last night being the date of 5 July for indoor dining. 

Earlier this week, guidelines put together by Fáilte Ireland were both welcomed and criticised. 

When outdoor dining and drinking begins again on 7 June, outdoor tables will be limited to six people. 

The government is already said to be reviewing the guidelines “in a few weeks time”

The plan has not yet been officially confirmed but there is some reaction coming through. 

Paul Murphy TD of People Before Profit, who has advocated for a ‘zero-Covid’ approach to virus suppression, is raising concern about the return of incoming travel in July. 

He has tweeted specific concern about the spread of the India variant in the UK

Cabinet arrivals 012 Source: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly addressed this question earlier today on his way into Cabinet: 

The UK obviously is our closest neighbour, and we’re looking very carefully about how we can facilitate travel between here and the UK but being mindful, obviously, of the fact that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, we do have the Indian variant. So one of the things we’re looking at very closely is ensuring that the existing measures which are which are quite substantive in and of themselves are used to the maximum extent possible.

How are we? Garreth MacNamee taking over from Rónan Duffy as we move ever closer to 6pm when Micheál Martin is expected to address the nation. 

First thing’s first. Our intrepid political reporter has the latest on what we can expect this evening – and for once in a very long time, it looks to be good news. 

Screenshot 2021-05-28 5.05.28 PM Source: Twitter

In other Covid news, the Department of Health confirmed a further 467 cases of the disease in Ireland. 

The Department of Health said there are 99 people in hospital being treated for Covid-19, with 38 of those patients in intensive care units.

We are about 15 minutes away from Micheál’s speech to the nation. 

We will be bringing you the latest as it happens. 

Here we go. The Taoiseach is making his way to the podium to make his speech. 

Micheál said he is satisfied that the decisions of his Government up to this date have been the right ones.

On vaccines – he says the take-up has been “extraordinary”.

“The Irish people trust the vaccines,” he says. 

More than 2.6 million vaccines have been administered so far.

“Given our progress and the current level of the virus in society – all the measures we hoped to introduce will go ahead,” Martins says. 

2 June – Hotels are back open. 

7 June – outdoor bars and restaurants.

7 June – up to 200 people at outdoor events, cinemas, and theatres to reopen. Phased reopening of day centres for older people. 

Martin has confirmed:

5 July – the return of indoor services in bars and restaurants. 100 attendees indoor venues. Further increase in outdoor attendance at events, and a further relaxation of the 50% capacity levels on public transport.  Up to 50 guests able to attend weddings. 

5 August – A further increase in numbers attending outdoor events.  Up to 100 guests at weddings. 

Pubs and bars will be offered a once-off grant to help them get back on their feet. 

Martin says he is committed to rebuilding “society and economy”.

From 19 July, a return to international travel will occur, Martin confirms. 

 

He said that “we must remain vigilant” against the virus. 

Martin finishes: “The end of this is within our grasp.”

So here’s a bit of a round-up:

From 7 June

  • Up to 200 people can attend outdoor events in venues with a minimum capacity of 5000, and up to 100 can attend other outdoor events.
  • Cinemas and theatres will also reopen.
  • In light of the very genuine concerns regarding road safety, we will also see a start to the reopening of driver theory test services and an incremental reopening of Driver Test Centres.
  • We will see the phased reopening of day centres for older people.
  • There will also be a number of pilot sporting and cultural events taking place in June and early July, to test the logistical requirements for further reopening.

From 5 July:

  • We will see the return of indoor services in restaurants and bars.
  • Indoor events will recommence, with maximum of 100 attendees in larger venues and 50 in all others.
  • We will see a further increase in the number attending outdoor events.
  • Indoor exercise and sports activities will return.
  • There will be further relaxation on visits to private homes.
  • And up to 50 guests will be able to attend wedding receptions.

From 5 August: 

  • A further increase in numbers attending indoor events, with 200 in larger venues and 100 in all others.
  • A further increase in number attending outdoor events.
  • The 50% capacity restriction on public transport will be lifted,
  • And up to 100 guests will be able to attend weddings.

Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan are now taking part in a joint press conference. 

Leo is talking about supports for business which have really struggled during the pandemic. 

“They have needed a lot of support. That will continue.”

Screenshot 2021-05-28 6.41.50 PM

Micheál Martin on working arrangements: 

“The public health advice is that workers should work from home when possible. NPHET says this practice should continue.”

Responding to questions from the press, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he expects a staggered return to workplaces from August. 

“We don’t envisage the return of house parties soon. Sorry about that.”

Micheál Martin with some unwelcome news this Friday evening. 

Well, that’s that. 

The three party leaders have left the building. 

Thanks for sticking with us. 

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Rónán Duffy

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