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'Today is a good day': Taoiseach confirms almost all Covid measures to be lifted from 6am tomorrow

Last night, NPHET recommended that almost all Covid-19 restrictions could end.

Micheál Martin this evening.
Micheál Martin this evening.

MOST COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS, including curbs on hospitality and events, will be lifted from tomorrow morning, the Taoiseach has announced. 

In an address to the nation, Micheál Martin said the 8pm closure of hospitality and capacity limits at indoor and outdoor events will be lifted from 6am tomorrow.

Nightclubs have been given the green light to reopen, rules around social distancing will come to an end and guidance on restricting household visits will also conclude. 

Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certs will no longer be required for indoor hospitality or events. A phased return to offices can also begin. 

But mask-wearing, the use of the Digital Covid Cert for international travel and isolation rules for those who have Covid symptoms will remain in place. 

Martin said that NPHET confirmed Ireland has “weathered the Omicron storm” and that “today is a good day”. 

NPHET told government that the rate of infection is reducing and that key indicators on which the government bases its decision are going “in the right direction”.

“It was our vaccinations and boosters that prevented the recent wave of infection translating into much more serious levels of illness and death,” Martin said. 

As a result, Cabinet decided there is no longer a “rationale and justification” for continuing most Covid restrictions.

The Taoiseach reiterated that “vaccination is key” and said: “I want to be clear also that the pandemic isn’t over. It will still require all of us to be vigilant.”  

Protective measures in place in primary and secondary schools will also remain in place. 

People will still be required to wear face masks in settings such as shops, hairdressers and on public transport. 

Staff in hospitality will still be required to wear masks, but the new rules do not stipulate that people going in bars and restaurants must wear masks when not at their table. This had been the case under current rules. 

The lifted measures mean there will be no more six-person limit to a table in bars and restaurants. Bar service will also resume. 

Future restrictions 

Martin said he can’t promise that there won’t be further “twists” in the pandemic requiring difficult decisions down the line. But, the Taoiseach said, “today is a good day”. 

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The Taoiseach acknowledged that some people will feel anxious about the reopening plans. He encouraged them to engage with other people on these feelings and to share their anxieties. 

In his speech, Martin said that government has always been “guided by the science” and did not want to hinder peoples’ freedoms for longer than necessary. 

The Taoiseach said: “I understand deeply the grief that is felt by so many who lost loved ones, but no one should be in any doubt that your collective efforts have saved many thousands of lives.”

Cabinet met this afternoon to discuss the recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team that almost all Covid-19 restrictions can be ended. 

The recommendations were contained in a letter from Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan sent to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly last night.

The CMO said there’s no longer a public health rationale for the majority of measures that are currently in place.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said earlier today that once the public health rationale for restrictions are removed “there’s no political rationale either”. 

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