The Taoiseach said the sense of “hope, excitement and relief” is palpable as he confirmed the widespread reopening of the country over the summer.
Micheál Martin said that while the end of the pandemic is “within our grasp”, he urged the public to “remain vigilant against the terrible virus”.
He said the country was “almost back to a point where we can just enjoy the ordinary extraordinary moments in our lives.”
“The sense of hope, excitement, and relief is palpable. But as we watch what is happening across the globe, we of course know that we must remain vigilant against this terrible virus. We know there have been many twists and turns on this journey.
“I’ve talked many times about the strength that is found and solidarity and how managing the pandemic must be a collective effort. This coming month could be the most important test of that spirit that we have faced since this ordeal began.”
“If we continue to mind each other, if we continue to make the right choices, be vigilant, take our vaccine when our turn comes, if we continue to do all of these things, the end of this is within our grasp,” he said.
Mr Martin asked the public to continue to exercise caution and “to trust the science.” He said that while the Government’s approach has been cautious, “the strategy is working.”
In early July, there will be more things opening up again for people: pic.twitter.com/u4nt1XHjmI
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) May 28, 2021
He went on to confirm the reopening of hotels and B&Bs on June 2nd, with outdoor hospitality, such as pubs and restaurants, able to resume business on June 7th.
June 7th will also see the return of theatres, cinemas and gyms, while the number of people allowed to gather at outdoor events next month would be 100, or up to 200 in larger venues.
Also on June 7th, some driver theory and practical tests will start to reopen. “In light of the very genuine concerns regarding road safety, we also will see a start to the reopening of driver theory tests, services and an incremental reopening of driver test centres,” he said.
From July 5th, indoor hospitality will return in restaurants and bars, the Taoiseach confirmed.
There will be a maximum of 100 attendees in larger venues and 50 in all others.
The numbers allowed to attend outdoor events will increase while indoor exercise and sports activities will return.
There will be further relaxation on visits to private homes and up to 50 guests will be able to attend wedding receptions.
From August 5th, the numbers attending indoor events will increase to 200 in larger venues and 100 in all others.
There will be a further increase in numbers attending outdoor events, the 50 per cent capacity restriction on public transport will be lifted and up to 100 guests will be able to attend weddings.
The Taoiseach said: “Our direction of travel is clear and is very positive.
“To continue in this direction, it is important that we all adhere to public health guidelines and make sensible personal decisions.”
Mr Martin confirmed that registration for the Covid vaccine will open for people aged 40 and over from next week.
He hailed Ireland’s uptake of the vaccine programme as a key factor in plans to reopen the country.
“By every measure, the Irish people trust the vaccines. In fact, our country enjoys one of the highest levels of trust in the vaccine in the world,” he said.
“Nearly 90 per cent of those aged 60-69 have started vaccination. Among those 50-59, almost 90 per cent have registered and almost 80 per cent have started vaccination. Almost 100 per cent of our citizens over the age of 70 are now fully vaccinated.
“This is unsurpassed in the European Union. The evidence of the vaccine’s positive impact on hospitalisation, serious illness and death is absolutely beyond doubt.”
The State will broadly implement the EU’s digital Covid certificate from July 19th, allowing travel between EU member states, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
The digital Covid certificate will facilitate free movement in the EU for people who have been vaccinated or can provide a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival.
An “emergency brake” system will apply to non-EU/EEA countries, designed to allow a swift response to the emergence of a variant of concern or variant of interest.
Government advice will be to avoid travel to a country where the emergency brake has been applied.
A passenger arriving from a country where the emergency brake has been applied will have to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine, if they cannot provide valid proof that they have been vaccinated.
The approach to travel outside the EU/EEA will also apply to travel to and from Great Britain and the US.