Restrictions to end at 6am Saturday: Workers could return from Monday 

Ministers met on Friday on foot of advice from public health bosses that the vast majority of pandemic restrictions can be lifted on a phased basis.
Restrictions to end at 6am Saturday: Workers could return from Monday 

Normal hours will resume in the hospitality industry this weekend. 

LATEST: Workers could return to offices from Monday while normal hours will resume in the hospitality industry this weekend, under plans set to be approved by Cabinet.

Ministers met on Friday on foot of advice from public health bosses that the vast majority of pandemic restrictions can be lifted on a phased basis.

Mask-wearing looks set to continue until the end of February, self-isolation will remain in place for symptomatic people and Covid passes will still be needed for international travel.

But all other restrictions look set to be lifted from 6am on Saturday, sources have told the PA news agency.

Micheál Martin said he will give a “clear and comprehensive statement” this evening about the plans for the weeks and months ahead.
Micheál Martin said he will give a “clear and comprehensive statement” this evening about the plans for the weeks and months ahead.

Nphet has advised the Government that most pandemic rules can go, but that they should be removed in a phased way.

Earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said there was no basis for the restrictions being in place without a public health rationale, but said it could take time to unpick the legislation underpinning them.

He told reporters: “The Taoiseach will make an announcement at six.

“Certainly, I think the view across Government is that if there’s no longer a public health rationale for any particular restriction, well, then there’s no political rationale for it either.

“But there are things that need to be worked out, to make something that’s currently currently illegal, legal.

“It can require a ministerial order to be rescinded, it sometimes requires primary legislation to be repealed. So it leaves a bit of work today on timing.

“And then also, particularly, a lot of work on the business supports and making sure that they’re not removed too suddenly.” 

EARLIER: The Cabinet will meet this afternoon to consider recommendations from health chiefs to end most of the state’s Covid restrictions.

It is understood that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended restrictions around hospitality can be lifted, including the 8pm curfew and ending the requirement for a Covid pass to enter premises.

Nphet met on Thursday evening and issued a series of recommendations in a letter to ministers.

They include that live venues and sport venues can return to full capacity, an end to restrictions on household guests and a phased return to work.

However the wearing of face masks is recommended to continue on public transport and in retail settings and Covid passes will still be needed for international travel.

Calls for trading hours to return to normal immediately

In light of the recommendations, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has urged the Government to allow all hospitality businesses to trade as normal from Friday.

Government ministers will meet on Friday to assess the advice before Taoiseach Micheál Martin makes an announcement.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe told RTÉ it is reasonable to expect the state will be able to exit regulations at a faster pace than would have looked likely a number of weeks ago.

He said: “What we have done at all points in this pandemic is been guided by public health advice. 

"We have looked to deploy timings that get the balance right between the needs to our economy and society and that of public health, and that is what we will continue to do.” 

Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association, said the recommendations have been “eagerly awaited by the entire hospitality and late-night sectors for a long, long time”.

“Hopefully the Government will now move swiftly and there will be no delays to the full reopening and the scrapping of hospitality restrictions,” he said.

“Hospitality is ready and waiting to open our doors this weekend. If the Government gives the green light then the recovery of the hospitality and night-time sectors could begin as early as Friday night.” 

Earlier, Mr Martin said he will give a “clear and comprehensive statement” on Friday about the plans for the weeks and months ahead.

“The situation is positive. We have come through Omicron better than we might have expected prior to Christmas,” he told RTÉ.

“The combination of the booster campaign and vaccination and the fact that Omicron does not seem to be as virulent as Delta and previous waves has meant that the impact on people, in terms of severe illness and death and ICUs, has been much less.

“So, therefore, I think people can be positive, we can be positive.”

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