There will be no changes before April 12th.
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced the next steps in a cautious plan to slowly reopen the country during April, May and June.
In a much-anticipated TV address, Martin unveiled a raft of updated guidance that will increase travel, allow builders to return to home construction sites and open up a small number of outdoor sports and attractions in the coming weeks.
All going well, further changes will be introduced in May, with retail, hair salon and barber reopenings potentially on the cards.
The Taoiseach said he understood the long months in lockdown have been “exceptionally difficult” but while Covid-19 cases remain stubbornly high, with 368 additional cases confirmed in the past 24 hours (14 in Cork) and 14 deaths from the virus, every effort must be made to prevent a fourth wave that would scupper any plans to reopen hospitality and retail in the summer.
“We are on the final stretch of this terrible journey.” the Taoiseach said.
Here are the key points announced tonight:
- Travel: The 5km from home rule will be lifted on April 12th, but travel will remain limited to within your home county. There will be exceptions for people who live on the border of two counties.
- Household visits: Two households can meet up outdoors in a public place (not in a home garden) from April 12th. It is understood that two fully vaccinated people from different households can meet indoors or outdoors after April 12th.
- Construction: House and early learning/childcare construction can resume on April 12th, with the remaining construction sites to open in May.
- Sports: Senior county GAA and high performing athletes can resume training on April 19th with outdoor, non-contact sports such as tennis and golf and children’s sports training resuming on April 26th.
- Outdoor attractions: Good news for Fota fans; wildlife parks and zoos will be allowed to reopen on April 26th.
- Funerals: The number of mourners permitted to attend a funeral will be increased from 10 to 25 from April 26th.
- Work from Home: Continue to work from home until further notice.
- Masks: Masks should still be worn in crowded or indoor spaces.
- Shops and hair salons: Retail stores, salons and barbers will remain closed for now but depending on the case numbers, they could start reopening in May.
- Gyms: Gyms will remain closed for now.
- Restaurants and pubs: Unless they have a kitchen and a proper menu, the doors of your local pub will sadly remain closed for a while yet. Takeaway pints are still permitted.
- Museums and libraries: Indoors cultural institutions will remain closed.
- Places of worship: Churches and other places of worship will remain closed.
The restrictions will be reviewed again at the end of April.
Cautious approach will lead to ‘exciting conversation’ about the summer – Donnelly
Speaking outside Government buildings earlier today, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that while the message from NPHET is one of caution it is also one of hope:
“Essentially NPHET’s message is, if we can hold on that bit longer, if we can keep the curve reasonably flat, then every single week we do that we radically increase the chances of protecting the gains made and we radically increase the chances of having a much better summer.” Minister Donnelly said.
“People need, at this point, to see a way out. They need to see a path out but also they need to know that we are taking the right public health-led approach and cautious approach.”
Minister Donnelly said that allowing some extra time for the vaccine to take effect will open up the opportunity to have “a much more exciting conversation about the summer”.