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An 'accelerated' roadmap: Here's how Ireland now plans to reopen by 20 July

There will be four phases of easing Covid-19 restrictions, rather than five.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (file photo).
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (file photo).
Image: RollingNews.ie

THE TAOISEACH HAS confirmed the next phase of the lifting of coronavirus restrictions – Phase Two – can go ahead as planned from Monday.

The easing of restrictions will accelerate from the previous roadmap, with Leo Varadkar calling next week’s stage “Phase Two Plus”.

People can travel within their own county, or up to 20km from their home, whichever is further, from Monday. It is planned to remove these domestic travel restrictions completely on 29 June.

All retail shops can reopen from Monday, once safety measures are in place, and groups of up to 15 people can meet outdoors for “sporting, cultural or social activities” when social distancing is maintained.

Up to 25 immediate family and close friends may attend funeral services from next week.

Full details of the plan can be read here

Varadkar also confirmed that there will now be four phases of easing restrictions, rather than five.

Phase Three will begin on 29 June and Phase Four will start on 20 July.

Speaking at Government Buildings today, Varadkar said acceleration of the roadmap “has been made possible because of the considerable sacrifices that you have made to restrict the spread of the virus and protect others”.

“During this emergency we have suffered as a country, lost loved ones, and changed the way that we work and live.

“Over the last few months, fear has exerted a kind of gravity pulling us down, but now we feel hope is pulling us up again. We are making progress. We are heading in the right direction. And we have earned the right to be hopeful about the future again,” he stated. 

What you need to know about Phase Two:

  • You may travel within your own county, and up to 20km from your home if crossing county boundaries.
  • You may meet up to six people from outside your household both indoors and outdoors for social gatherings. Organised outdoor exercise, sporting, cultural or social activities of up to 15 people may take place.
  • All retail stores can reopen, but opening times and modes of operation may vary.
  • People should continue to work from home if possible. 
  • Walk or cycle if you can. Only use public transport if you absolutely need to. Public transport capacity is limited because of social distancing requirements.

If you are over 70 or medically vulnerable, the advice is to:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • You may welcome small numbers of people to your home, but maintain social distancing.
  • For shopping, please use the times specially allotted by retailers.
  • If you are visiting someone who is over 70 or medically vulnerable, please be extra-vigilant.

It is still recommended that face coverings be worn in public places, such as shops, and on public transport.

Retail and tourism

Varadkar said that when retail shops start to reopen on Monday, “it is important that [this] does not create crowding on public transport or interfere with essential workers getting to work”.

“Therefore, shops reopening – the ones not already open – will be required to operate staggered hours, opening no earlier than 10:30am and allocating dedicated time at the start for elderly, vulnerable and at-risk groups.”

Shopping centres can reopen on 15 June “provided only the shops open and measures are taken to ensure people do not congregate at benches, fountains or food courts for example”, Varadkar said.

“Summer is not lost and this can be a summer of hope if we keep the virus at bay,” he added.

Cabinet today decided to plan a return of the tourism and hospitality sectors on 29 June as part of a revised Phase Three.

“We want to see the return of domestic tourism in our country, and the re-opening of hotels, restaurants, hostels, caravan parks, galleries and museums from 29 June.

“Making it possible for bars that also operate as restaurants to reopen. Making it possible for us to explore our country as if for the first time and rediscover the beauty that is all around us. We also want places of worship to resume services again, with precautions,” Varadkar said.

“As our country opens up and we start interacting more, personal responsibility becomes even more important than ever. We got into this fight against Covid-19 together, and we will only get out of it together,” he stated.

A new public information campaign will be rolled out over the coming days.

Varadkar said the decision to accelerate the easing of restrictions was made “based on the medical evidence and the recommendations of NPHET and government reports on the economic and social impact of Covid-19″.

“Under the guidance of the CMO [Dr Tony Holohan], we will work out in the days ahead which actions will take place in each.

“Some measures such as bans on mass gatherings may need to remain in place well into August as will public health advice around hygiene and physical distancing,” the Taoiseach said.

Phase One of the reopening plan – which saw the return of construction workers, and large-scale hardware retailers opening their doors once again – began on 18 May. 

The initial five-stage roadmap plan outlining how restrictions would be unwound was announced at the start of last month.

With reporting by Daragh Brophy 

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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