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Here's everything you need to know about the Covid-19 restrictions changing from today

Restrictions around travel, outdoor meetings, schools and construction have been loosened.

People walking on the seafront at Clontarf in Dublin last month.
People walking on the seafront at Clontarf in Dublin last month.
Image: Sasko Lazarov

SOME COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS around travel, schools and outdoor meetings will be loosened from today.

All students will return to classrooms, people can travel within their county borders or 20km from their home across county borders, and two households can meet outdoors in a public place.

Here’s a closer look at the restrictions being eased from today.

Travel

Up until now, people have been restricted to travelling within 5km of their homes for non-essential reasons. There were exceptions in place for reasons like work and education.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin said last month that the government “gets it” and understands that people are “fed up” with this kind of restriction. 

From today, the travel limit has been extended to within your county borders or within 20km of your home if crossing a county border. 

Schools 

Students have been gradually returning to classrooms since 1 March when half of primary school students and all Leaving Cert students went back to in-person learning.

This phased reopening has continued in the weeks since and from today, all remaining students will return to classrooms.

Assistant general secretary at the Department of the Taoiseach, Liz Canavan, said last week that parents should “continue to be vigilant” following this return to school. 

“In particular, parents are requested to avoid play dates or sleepovers so that we can continue to keep case numbers as low as possible and continue with the next phase of the reopening of schools,” she said at a press briefing. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has repeatedly said that schools are low-risk settings. 

The chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Professor Philip Nolan, said on Thursday that the phased reopening of schools has so far had a “minimal impact” on Covid-19 case numbers. 

Households meeting

Polling data from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) last month found that social visits between households doubled in the six weeks to the start of March.

Up until now, two households were allowed to meet outdoors for exercise. 

From today, two households can meet up to socialise in a public place. Meetings in private gardens are still not advised. 

The government has said physical distance should still be maintained and masks should be worn in busy outdoor settings.  

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Construction

Construction has been paused since 8 January, apart from essential health and social housing projects.

The construction of homes and childcare facilities will resume from today. The Taoiseach has said this will involve around 14,000 workers returning to the job.

When asked last month about the threshold for ‘home building’, Micheál Martin said: “Residential does affect one’s residence and homes, and can be refurbishment and building and that. It’s a limited reopening, but an essential one in terms of the housing crisis.”

The Construction Industry Federation said it is “deeply disappointed” by the phased reopening of the sector, adding that over 20,000 construction workers remain out of work until the next easing of restrictions.

“The delay in reopening construction sites means these jobs will be put at further risk despite the fact that all available evidence demonstrates that construction sites are controlled environments and are safe to open,” it said.

Later this month 

More changes will commence from 19 April (next Monday) including the return of elite sport and training/playing in adult inter-county Gaelic leagues, excluding minor or under 20 competitions.

From 26 April, depending on the Covid-19 situation, outdoor sports facilities like tennis courts and outdoor visitor attractions like the zoo will be permitted to reopen. 

Maximum attendance at funerals will also increase to 25 at this time and underage non-contact outdoor training of 15 or fewer people will be allowed.

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