Most Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted by October 22nd.
In his live television address this evening, An Taoiseach Michéal Martin confirmed that the next steps back to normality will rely heavily on personal responsibility rather than legal obligation.
Revealing details of the new plan ‘Reframing the Challenge, Continuing Our Recovery and Reconnecting’, signed off in Cabinet this afternoon, the Taoiseach said “protecting lives and public health has demanded policies that have often been frustrating”, however, despite countless challenges, “we kept our head as a country” and the strategy has worked.
With 1,382 new cases of the disease confirmed in the past 24 hours and 355 patients hospitalised, 54 in intensive care, the latest roadmap is contingent on 90% of adults being fully vaccinated and the rate of infection remaining manageable.
The Taoiseach said an increase in new cases is likely over the coming weeks but the Government “will move quickly” if hospital wards become overwhelmed.
Here are the key points announced tonight:
- THE NEXT STEP: Public transport will return to full capacity tomorrow, Wednesday, September 1st. The next significant date in the new roadmap for ending pandemic restrictions across the country is Monday, September 6th, when indoor events will be permitted again, provided the venue operates at 60% capacity and all audience members are vaccinated. Outdoor events can operate at 75% capacity for the fully vaccinated. Religious ceremonies such as Communions and Confirmations and sports events can also resume on this date.
- WHAT HAPPENS THEN? On Monday, September 20th, employers can begin inviting employees to return to the workplace. Kids’ dance and drama classes and extra-curricular activities such as gymnastics will also resume, along with indoor activities for grown-ups such as bingo and bowling.
- CLOSING TIME: The 11.30pm pub curfew is set to remain in place for another month at least. The cut-off time is likely to return to normal after nightclubs reopen after October 22nd.
- LIVE MUSIC: Live music will once again be permitted indoors in pubs and at weddings from September 6th, 2021.
- MASKS: Mask-wearing will be one of the last Covid guidelines to remain in place, particularly in retail spaces, health settings and on public transport.
- THE 2M RULE: While specific guidelines have yet to be issued, earlier today Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed that the 2m rule will be eased, depending on the setting.
- VACCINE CERTS: Vaccine passes will no longer be required after October 22nd.
You can read the full plan here.
Holohan urges caution as kids head back-to-school
While the latest data shows that, to date, the school environment is not a major source of disease transmission, parents are urged to be extra vigilant as children return to the classroom this week.
“In order to go back to school as safely as possible, my advice to children is to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser regularly and follow the protocols operating in your school,” said Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health.
“Parents, please keep in mind the symptoms to look out for and do not send your child to school if they display any of them. Instead, help them to isolate and contact your GP for advice and arrange a test if appropriate.”
Dr Holohan also urged caution when participating in activities with classmates outside the school environment, which have proven to be settings where outbreaks and transmission in children have occurred in the past.