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Dublin: 18 °C Tuesday 11 August, 2020
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No return to rush-hour as Dublin's streets remain quiet on the first morning of Phase Two

Buses and train stations remained largely quiet this morning.

A woman wearing a protective face mask waits at a bus stop in Dublin's city centre.
A woman wearing a protective face mask waits at a bus stop in Dublin's city centre.
Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

THERE WAS LITTLE sign of the return of rush-hour in Dublin this morning, on the first day of Phase Two of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. 

While buses and cars rumbled along the quays, traffic was far from pre-pandemic levels – despite expectations that this new phase could see greater demand on public transport. 

Dublin Bus has returned to a nearly-normal timetable from today, but even with seating reduced to support social distancing, buses were far from capacity levels from 8am this morning. 

People have been advised to wear masks on public transport, but there was no widespread mask-wearing this morning on the city’s buses – although many remained largely empty. 

Today marks a significant new phase in Ireland’s re-opening as the number of new coronavirus cases remains low. People can now travel within their own county or 20km from home and some shops are allowed to re-open. 

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

That five-step plan has been condensed down to four and a number of measures have been brought forward after the government announced the acceleration of the previous roadmap on Friday. 

But health officials have warned people to limit their number of close contacts, even as rules relax on social gatherings and shops re-open. 

There was no return to bustling streets this morning, with few commuters stopping to linger and no sign of a full return to normality with plenty of businesses remaining shuttered. 

Some shops will re-open after 10.30am this morning, after the government said that staggered opening times will reduce pressure on public transport. However, some of the larger retailers such as Brown Thomas, Arnotts and Penneys will only re-open later this week. 

Several bus drivers who spoke to TheJournal.ie said that they hadn’t noticed any kind of Phase Two-related spike in commuters. Some pointed that that things were busier during the spell of good weather in recent weeks. 

Rush-hour at Dart stations also appeared quiet. Tara Street station, one of the busiest spots in the city before the Covid-19 crisis, was largely empty at 9am this morning – with only a handful of people going in or out. 

Like Dublin Bus, from today Dart services returned to normal service on weekdays, in the expectation that things should get busier. 

There was also little sense of newly enthusiastic cyclists taking to the streets this morning, despite talk of a boom in bike sales. Earlier, cycle lanes remained largely empty – with no indication that people were eschewing cars and public transport for cycling. 

Cafes

For now, the vast majority of offices remain closed and many workers are still at home. Government advice remains that people should work from home where possible. 

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Cafes, once able to rely on a steady stream of office-goers for trade, reported no great return to normality. 

The popular Coffeeangel chain, which has several cafes in the city, re-opened for the first time today. Owner Karl Purdy said that things seemed “a little better”. 

He’s been in the shops regularly preparing online orders and said a few customers had been in this morning. 

“It’s still nowhere near what it used to be,” Purdy told TheJournal.ie. “But it’s encouraging. I think we just need to get started.”

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