By David Young, PA
Ireland is taking some further steps back toward normality as a series of lockdown restrictions lift on Monday.
A phased reopening of non-essential retail will begin, with click-and-collect services and in-store shopping by appointment allowed, while close contact services, such as hairdressers, can resume.
Restrictions on inter-county travel have also lifted while some of the limitations on indoor and outdoor social gatherings have eased.
Many museums, galleries and libraries are now able to reopen and the number of people allowed to attend religious services, including weddings and funerals, has increased to 50.
Indoor wedding receptions will be capped at six people and 15 for outdoor celebrations.
Three households, or up to six people from individual households, can now meet outdoors, including in private gardens.
Vaccinated households can also meet with an unvaccinated household indoors (without masks or social distancing) provided they are not at risk of severe illness and there are no more than three households present.
This measure will enable grandparents to meet and hug other family members indoors.
Three vaccinated households are also allowed to meet indoors (without masks or social distancing).
Team sports training for adults in pods of 15 is also now permitted.
Allowed capacity on public transport has also increased to 50 per cent.
Next Monday retail will reopen fully, with a variety of other restrictions due to lift in June.
On Sunday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin expressed hope that Ireland could look forward to a good summer.
Mr Martin was commenting after he received an AstraZeneca vaccine in Cork.
“I think we’re making great progress as a country,” he said.
“I think people have done extremely well in responding to the various guidelines over the last number of months and the results are that we are emerging from this pandemic.
“We’re set to have a good summer if we can keep this progress going and the vaccination is certainly helping in bring down severe illness and bringing down death and hospitalisation, so keep with it and we’re making progress.”
Ireland’s vaccination programme continues to gather pace and on Friday the country achieved a record for the number of jabs administered in one day, 52,000.