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'The end of this is within our grasp': Taoiseach confirms Covid-19 summer reopening plans

Micheál Martin was speaking at Government Buildings this evening.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin addresses the nation.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin addresses the nation.
Image: Julien Behal Photography

Updated May 28th 2021, 6:37 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said Ireland is taking “definite steps towards normal times”, as he outlined a significant gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the coming months.

Speaking at Government Buildings this evening, the Taoiseach confirmed the timeline for perhaps the most substantial moves towards normality since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Now the challenge is to keep moving forward safely, remembering all the time our determination to make sure that when we reopen each part of our society and economy, it stays open,” he said.

This is an important time for us all. After the trauma of the last fifteen months we are finally taking definite steps towards enjoying normal times with friends and loved ones again. We’re almost back to a point where we can just enjoy the ordinary extraordinary moments in our lives. The sense of hope, excitement, and relief is palpable. 

He added: “If we continue to make the right choices, be vigilant, take our vaccine when our turn comes, if we continue to do all of these things, the end of this is within our grasp.”

The plan includes a timeline for the return of indoor drinking in wet pubs, thousands of fans at sporting fixtures and some large-scale live events, none of which have been permitted since the first lockdown in March 2020. 

The Taoiseach also said that a new grant scheme would be introduced for pubs and bars and the event sector.  

The announcement also gave details for the return of non-essential international travel, with Ireland set to sign up the EU Green Cert “fully” from 19 July

The plan allows those who are fully vaccinated, those who have recent a negative Covid-19 test, or who have fully recovered from Covid-19 to travel in the EU.

All EU countries are to come off the mandatory hotel quarantine list with Transport Minister Eamon Ryan saying that it will only remain in place for “a very small number of countries”.

On foreign travel, Martin said he understands the “pent up desire of very many people to have a break overseas or to welcome friends and family from abroad”.

“But I also understand very clearly the need to get this right and to make sure we restore international travel in a safe and sustainable way,” he said.

The Taoiseach said that the plan was made possible by the progress of Ireland’s vaccination programme, which he said will have reached half of the adult population by Monday.

By every measure the Irish people trust the vaccines. In fact our country enjoys one of the highest levels of trust in the vaccine in the world.

“It is clear that the Irish people are embracing the national vaccination program and that it is pouring ahead. More than 2.6 million vaccines have now been administered and half the eligible population of the country will have received at least one vaccine by Monday,” he said. 

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Rónán Duffy

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