The Cabinet has agreed to ease lockdown restrictions in Ireland from April 12th.
Here is everything we know about when and how the country will begin to leave its Level 5 lockdown.
When will restrictions begin to ease?
Although April 5th was initially earmarked as the date for a review of restrictions, the Government has decided to defer any relaxation by a week to April 12th.
Restrictions will ease on a gradual and phased basis to allow the vaccine programme to ramp up and reduce the risk of another surge of the disease.
What restrictions will ease first from April 12th?
Restrictions will begin to ease in the following areas in early April:
- Schools: All students will return to classrooms after the Easter break.
- Domestic travel: The current five-kilometre exercise limit will be extended to allow people to travel within their own county or within a 20km radius of their home even if that crosses a county boundary.
- Gatherings: Two households will be permitted to meet outdoors, but not in private gardens, for social and recreational purposes.
- Construction: A partial resumption of construction activity will begin with the return of 5,000 home building workers as all residential projects can recommence.
Is there a 'vaccine bonus'?
The Government is introducing a “vaccine bonus” for those who are now fully inoculated against the disease.
This will allow those who are fully vaccinated to visit other fully vaccinated people from one other household indoors, without wearing masks or staying two metres apart.
Those over the age of 70 or medically vulnerable, who are fully vaccinated, will also no longer be advised to cocoon.
What about later in April?
Later in April, the Government has indicated a number of dates for the further easing of restrictions.
From April 19th, restrictions on sports will ease to allow GAA senior county training to return, but will not include under 20 or minor competitions.
The easing of further restrictions from April 26th is subject to the “prevailing public health situation” and the following is planned:
- Outdoor sports facilities to reopen, such as pitches, golf courses and tennis courts. Activities should take place between a maximum of two households and there should not be any return to team sports or training activities.
- Outdoor visitor attractions to reopen, such as zoos, open pet farms and heritage sites. Indoor areas should remain closed, hospitality should only be open for takeaway services and capacity limits should be in place. Amusement parks will not be permitted to open.
- Underage non-contact outdoor training in pods of 15 to recommence for all exercise activities that can be delivered outdoors, including dance.
- Funeral attendance to increase from 10 to 25 on compassionate grounds.
From May 4th, the Government will review public health measures with the following under consideration:
- Construction activity to fully reopen.
- Non-essential retail to return on a phased basis, beginning with click-and-collect and outdoor retail such as garden centres.
- Personal services such as hairdressers to reopen on a staggered basis.
- Museums, galleries and libraries to reopen.
- Religious services to recommence on a staggered basis.
What about the summer months and hospitality?
The level of restrictions to be in place over the summer months will depend upon Covid-19 data and the progression of the vaccination programme.
Ministers were told July is the target for the return of inter-county travel, although there was no detailed discussion at Cabinet on the summer or what could happen for the hospitality sector.
What supports are in place?
The Government’s community support, well-being programmes, employment and business supports will continue until June 30th, including the EWSS, PUP and Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit.