Hopes are high across Cork following the news that Ireland is “on track” to ease Covid-19 restrictions as planned.
Speaking earlier today, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said that the Government will sit down at the end of April to develop a reopening plan for the months of May, June and July.
The Government is planning for more outdoor activities, a phased reopening of retail and the return of personal services such as hairdressers on a staggered basis next month, he said.
"We are on track, we're on track both to ease restrictions as planned from May 4, and to have over 80% of people receiving their first vaccine by the end of June."
He also said that he is “increasingly confident” that indoor and outdoor dining will be possible over the summer.
President of the Cork Business Association, Eoin O’Sullivan welcomed the positive news and said that he is hoping to see an introduction of click and collect services ahead of the reopening of non-essential retail.
“Leading on from the success of click-and-collect, hopefully then we can get to a full reopening of non-essential retail and with that, the on-street dining and hospitality sector should be easing restrictions as well so there’s hope there at the moment,” he added.
Mr O’Sullivan said that the goal is to return to full service when it is safe to do so to ensure businesses do not have to close again.
“We saw a spike after Christmas there which forced us into another lockdown, and we do not want to return to that.
"We want to ease back into business and do it in a safe and controlled manner."
Noting the recent positive announcements for Cork, he said that morale is high.
“The morale in the city is very high. Businesses are really hopeful now and they want to get back to trading…but to do it in a safe and controlled manner so when we reopen, we can stay open.”
Amy Shanahan from Amy Michelle Hairdressing also noted the importance of ensuring businesses can remain open.
“I think everyone is in agreement that we hope this it.”
Speaking on the Tanasite's comments she said:
“I’m delighted that we have kind of an idea of a timeline. At least now we’re kind of looking towards May which is next month so it will go fast hopefully, and we can start getting organised.”
Mick Moriarty from the Baldy Barber in Blackpool said that he would be glad to see a reopening in May and the opportunity to get “back to normal”.
However, he said that the black market is a “huge problem” in Cork at the moment.
“It would be good to get back. And that’s all we want- to get back to some sort of normality but in the meantime, all you have to do is look around and barbers and hairdressers are working flat out.”