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the way out

'A degree of normality is returning': Here's when restrictions are set to be lifted heading into the summer

The Taoiseach outlined the roadmap in an address to the nation this evening.

LAST UPDATE | Apr 29th 2021, 6:24 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN struck a hopeful tone as he gave yet another address to the nation this evening to outline the government’s plan for easing restrictions in the coming weeks.

The headline measures in the government’s new plan have been well-flagged, with significant easing of lockdown measures to begin next month.

Martin said the government was in a position to ease restrictions now because of the public’s adherence to the restrictions over the past few months.

“Because of your hard work and sacrifices, we are in a better place,” he said. 

“As disruptive as lonely as frustrating as the last year has been we are getting through it and a degree of normality is returning,” the Taoiseach said. 

Meetings with friends and family are returning, he added. “Hope is returning.”

The first key date will be 10 May, when inter-county travel will be permitted again. 

On the same date, hairdressers, barbers and salons will be permitted to re-open again by appointment. 

Click and collect shopping may also resume from 10 May. Three households will also be able to meet outside from the same date.

Up to 50 people will be permitted to attend religious services, which include weddings and funerals as well as masses from 10 May, also. Indoor wedding parties, however, will be capped at six guests and 15 guests for outdoor parties. Galleries and museums can re-open, as can libraries.

Three vaccinated households will also be permitted to meet indoors. As well as that, one vaccinated household will be advised they can meet a non-vaccinated household indoors. 

The next big re-opening date will be 17 May, when non-essential retail stores will be permitted to re-open again.

From 2 June, hotels and B&Bs will be permitted to open again. 

Pubs and restaurants will be permitted to re-open for outdoor dining and drinking on 7 June. The €9 substantial meal requirement has been scrapped. The re-opening of indoor hospitality venues is not expected until July at the earliest.

The re-opening of gyms and swimming pools is also expected from 7 June. The number of guests attending wedding receptions can increase to 25 on that date. And indoor visits in private homes from another household can also begin again.

Also, from 4 May, all construction will be resuming. 

The Taoiseach said these measures would see thousands return to work in the coming months. He said that the government will also continue to do everything it can to support businesses emerging from the pandemic and meet the costs of re-opening.

“Today for example, we agreed that any business currently availing of CRSS, which can now reopen, will be able to avail of double payment up to a maximum of €5,000 per week, to support them in meeting the costs of reopening,” he said.

He also said that the vaccine portal will open for people aged 50-59 to register for a vaccine appointment from next week. Martin said the government would continue to provide “every conceivable support and resource to meet the targets we have set”. 

The roadmap came with a caveat that all future measures indicated are dependent on the spread of Covid-19 in the community and any large spikes in cases could see amendments to the dates planned. 

The Taoiseach addressed the nation following a Cabinet meeting to sign off on the measures earlier today. 

Each and every one of us has an image of what we plan to do once the emergency is over, Martin said as he closed his statement. 

“Tonight each one of us is closer than we have been to that moment than we have been for a very long time,” he said.

Ending his speech he appealed to viewers to stick to the strategy that had worked to date and to “mind each other”.

Among the strongest reaction to the Taoiseach’s announcement came from the Restaurants Association of Ireland which accused the government of “dividing” the hospitality industry.

In a statement, it said there is “disbelief, confusion and frustration” with the decision to allow hotels and guesthouses open for indoor dining from 2 June while restaurants and pubs will only be able to open on an outdoor basis from 7 June.

The Irish Hairdressers Federation, meanwhile, greatly welcomed the news its members could re-open from 10 May. It said a “huge amount” of work would be done now to allow salons re-open safely and responsibly.

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