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Phase Two: Here are the restrictions due to be eased next week

Here’s what’s planned between 8 June and 29 June, when Phase 3 is due to begin.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

PHASE 2 OF easing Covid-19 restrictions is due to kick in next Monday, should public health officials advise it’s safe to proceed to the next phase of Ireland’s roadmap. 

Recent weeks have seen the country slowly move towards some semblance of normality during Phase 1 with public health officials expressing cautious optimism as Ireland continues to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Yesterday evening, the National Public Health Emergency Team, headed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, confirmed one death and 77 new cases of coronavirus. 

Last week saw a number of Cabinet ministers call for the relaxing of certain public health measures including reducing the two-metre distancing rule to one metre, a move ruled out by CMO Holohan. 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, meanwhile, said he does not agree with the 5km or the 20km limit set out under the first two phases of the government’s roadmap for reopening the economy.

At the start of May, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a five-step plan – which can be read in full here – for lifting the measures put in place by the government to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Under the plan, each phase will last three weeks. The document outlines how each phase impacts different sectors (e.g. education and sport), what will be allowed at each phase, and under what conditions. 

With Phase 1 almost over, the country is due to move to Phase 2 next week. Here’s what’s planned between 8 June and 29 June, when Phase 3 is due to begin. 

20 kilometres 

First off, public health advice is still for people to avoid unnecessary journeys but people will be able to travel up to 20 kilometres from their home from Monday, if all goes to plan. 

In terms of social visits, up to four people may visit another household for a short period while maintaining strict social distancing.

For the first time since lockdown measures were introduced, Irish people will be permitted to visit their family in their respective homes. 

Social distancing must still be adhered to. The advice is to respect the two metre distancing which we have all become accustomed to over the last 11 weeks. 

This advice is not solely for family members. The Phase 2 easing states: “Up to four people may visit another household for a short period of time but everyone must keep at least two metres apart from people they don’t live with.”

Visits to homes of over 70s and medically vulnerable are allowed but by no more than a small number of people for a short period of time. People will have to wear gloves, face coverings and maintain social distancing.

As part of Phase 2, slightly larger groups of people will be allowed to attend funerals. 

Retail services 

Looking at economic activity, workers who can maintain working from home should continue to do so during this period. 

Organisations were asked at the outset of the roadmap being published to develop plans for a return to onsite working by employees in light of Covid-19. 

Some of the plans for retail services include: 

  • Small retail outlets can reopen with small numbers of staff on the basis that the retailer can control the number of individuals that staff and customers interact with at any given time. 
  • Marts can reopen where social distancing can be maintained. 

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In terms of cultural and social measures, public libraries with limited numbers can reopen. 

People will also be permitted from Monday to engage in outdoor sporting and fitness activities, involving small group team sports training (but no matches), where social distancing can be maintained. 

What will remain closed?

Pubs will remain shut until at least Phase 4 which is slated to be on 20 July but some cafés and restaurants will open in phase 3 (June 29).

As things stand, the nation will have to wait until Phase 5 (August 10) for most of life to return to some semblance of normality. 

This is the phase where shopping centres, cinemas, bowling alleys and bingo halls can reopen where numbers can be limited. The same goes for pubs, nightclubs and casinos.

For all this to happen, Ireland must continue to report low levels of infection.

NPHET is due to brief the government later this week and make its recommendations as to whether Ireland can proceed to Phase 2 of the roadmap with the Taoiseach likely to announce on Friday that Phase 2 will begin on Monday. 

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