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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 9 July, 2020
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Phase Three: Here's what's allowed from today as Ireland enters second-last step out of lockdown

As Phase Three takes effect, here is everything you can do from today.

File photo of people in Bushy Park, Terenure, Co Dublin last month.
File photo of people in Bushy Park, Terenure, Co Dublin last month.
Image: Sam Boal

TODAY, IRELAND ENTERS Phase Three of the government’s updated roadmap to easing pandemic restrictions.

The roadmap started out with five phases but has since been reduced to four in an accelerated version of the original plan. 

From today, hairdressers, some pubs and a lot of other facilities can reopen, and travel around the country is no longer restricted.

The Cabinet approved the country entering Phase Three last Thursday and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made the official announcement that evening. 

A lot of measures have been brought forward to this phase due to low levels of the virus in the community. Let’s take a look at what we can expect.

Public health advice

This has remained the same throughout the pandemic and still applies in Phase Three.

The government is asking the public to observe measures under the acronym DATE, standing for Distance, Activity, Time and Environment.

This means being asked to stay two metres away from others where possible (D); wash hands regularly, and wear face coverings in crowded places (A); be conscious of the length of time they spend with another person (T); and to bear in mind that poorly-ventilated environments are riskier spaces than the outdoors (E).

Travel 

Travel restrictions within the country have been lifted and people can now go anywhere in Ireland. 

All non-essential travel overseas, however, is not advised and should be avoided.

Any person arriving into the country from abroad is still expected to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the country. They also must fill out a form showing where they will self-isolate.

Tourist travel to offshore islands is permitted from today. 

Communities on west coast islands have raised concerns that reopening would present a risk to public health, with fears that tourists could potentially bring Covid-19 with them.

With regard to air travel, a recommendation has been made to government from the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery that the current restrictions be lifted by 1 July.

The interim report published last week said that “Ireland is now significantly behind other [EU] member states” in approving the easing of air travel restrictions. 

The Taoiseach confirmed that travel restrictions between Ireland and a ‘green list’ of other countries will be lifted on 9 July, less than two weeks from now.  

Transport

Although travel around the country is no longer restricted, people are advised to walk or cycle when possible and only use public transport for essential journeys. 

People are also advised to avoid peak transport times if possible. 

The use of face coverings will be made mandatory on public transport after members of the Cabinet signed off on the measure last Thursday. 

Face coverings are also recommended in retail outlets and other places where social distancing is hindered.   

In terms of private transport hire, it is once again permitted to hire tour, event and private buses and other vehicles from today.

All hotels, hostels, caravan parks and holiday parks can reopen to visitors. 

A recent survey of 126 hotels has predicted an occupancy rate of 32% for the year – down from the 2019 high of 73%.

Childcare and education 

Childcare services can reopen for some children, including those whose parents are frontline workers, vulnerable children, children with disabilities and children whose parents continue to need childcare for employment or training purposes in certain circumstances. 

Availability will depend on capacity so services will be asked to prioritise children of essential or frontline workers if necessary.

All indoor and outdoor amenities for children can reopen from today. Summer camps and youth clubs are also allowed to reopen while adhering to mass gathering limits of 50 people indoors and 200 outdoors. 

All adult education facilities can reopen from today. 

Business

Although a lot of businesses can reopen from today, working from home is still advised for those who can continue to do so wherever possible.

Not all facilities that can reopen will do so from today as businesses adapt to new public health requirements to keep staff and customers safe. 

Hairdressers, barbers, beauty salons, spas, tattoo/piercing facilities and more are able to open their doors from today. 

The early reopening of hairdressers was welcomed by the Irish Hairdressers Federation (IHF).

“For the past three months we have been working tirelessly on preparing our guidelines for reopening the sector safely and responsibly, working with expert advisers and engaging with government,” the IHF said after the announcement.  

However, some customers might see an increase in price for their usual ‘do for additional costs related to Covid-19 such as PPE. 

Cafés and restaurants which provide food and drinks on the premises are permitted to reopen to customers.

One-fifth of people recently surveyed said they feel “very uncomfortable” about the idea of going back to the pub, even with two-metre social distancing measures in place.

Pubs that serve “substantial meals” costing at least €9 can reopen in this phase, under guidance issued by Fáilte Ireland.

Pubs that cannot adhere to this have to wait until Phase Four to open their doors. 

Services like chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists are also permitted to start back up today. 

All remaining retail outlets can reopen too. This includes bookmakers who had been ordered to stay shut two weeks ago after some confusion over when they could reopen.

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Driving schools, driving tests and other driving services can resume from today. 

Things to do 

After months of Zoom quizzes and nothing but Netflix, there will be a lot more cultural and social activities available from today. 

However, all gatherings of people will be restricted in number.

Indoor gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed in line with public health guidance. Outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people are permitted in the same circumstances.  

From today, you can visit: 

  • Museums, galleries, theatres and concert halls
  • Cinemas, music venues (excluding nightclubs) and leisure facilities
  • Bingo halls, skating rinks, amusement parks and arcades

All of these facilities must adhere to restrictions on the number of people. 

However, these mass gathering rules will not apply for churches and other places of worship which also reopen from today. 

A “special protocol” will be worked out to allow larger groups to attend services in churches with a large capacity, the Taoiseach confirmed on Thursday.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, had previously criticised the decision to apply the 50-person restriction to mass, stating that less than 1% of people in many parishes would be able to gather for services.

Sport and exercise

Sports and group exercise are back on the table from today, if they haven’t started up already in some form.

The GAA resumed non-contact adult training last Wednesday and non-contact training for age groups from minor down on Saturday. 

Team leagues, close contact sports and events with spectators can start up again from today.

Indoor gyms and exercise facilities are permitted to reopen from today, along with yoga, pilates and dance studios.

Sports clubs and public swimming pools are also allowed to open their doors to the public once again. 

Vulnerable groups

The word ‘cocooning’ has been removed from the government lexicon in Phase Three.

Those who are over 70 or considered medically vulnerable are advised to use their judgement to “decide how best to apply” health guidance in a number of circumstances.

These include staying home as much as possible, maintaining social distancing with visitors, using face coverings in certain situations and shopping during allotted times. 

Supermarkets have specific hours restricted for vulnerable shoppers including Tesco (up to 9am on weekdays), Aldi (between 11am and 1pm daily), Lidl (9am to 11am daily) and Dunnes Stores (11am to 1pm daily).  

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