Taoiseach Micheál Martin has this evening (Tuesday) announced the latest plans for easing Level 5 restrictions in an address to the nation.
- 5km travel limit will no longer apply from April 12 and people can move within their county
- All pupils and students to return to school after the Easter break
- Construction – all residential construction can restart as well as early-learning and childcare projects from April 12
- Two households can meet outdoors from April 12 (this does not include private gardens)
- April 19: Training for and playing of National Governing Body sanctioned and organised adult intercounty National Gaelic Games Leagues not including under 20 or minor competitions
- April 19: Elite sport will be allowed for high performing athletes, as approved by Sport Ireland
- April 26: Outdoor sports facilities can reopen e.g. pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, other facilities as appropriate
- From April 26: underage non-contact outdoor training in pods of 15 or fewer can restart
- April 26: Outdoor visitor attractions can reopen i.e. zoos, open pet farms, heritage sites. Amusement parks are not permitted to open
- Numbers attending funerals will increase to 25 from April 26
Under consideration from May 4, subject to the case numbers at that time, include: a full reopening of construction activity, phased return of non-essential retail commencing with click and collect and outdoor retail, for example: garden centres/nurseries, recommencement of personal services on a staggered basis, reopening of museums, galleries and libraries, and recommencement of religious services on a staggered basis.
“A lot has been asked of everyone,” Mr Martin said. “It has been, and continues to be, exceptionally difficult. We should never forget that by accepting the restrictions on all of our lives has helped save lives.“
He said the UK B11 new variant is “essentially a new virus”.
However, he added that by the summer the worst of the virus “should be behind us” and we can look forward to businesses reopening.
“We are on the final stretch of this terrible journey. Jobs and livelihoods will be restored and most importantly the worst of this awful pandemic will be over us.”
Lack of roadmap leaves pub sector floundering
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) says the continued absence of a coherent roadmap to guide the pub sector towards reopening is causing huge distress to publicans, their families and staff. The VFI has described today’s announcement by Government about the planned easing of restrictions as a “missed opportunity” as it should have contained clear details of how pubs can reopen.
While public health, rightfully, remains the number one concern, Government needs to create a plan that allows the hospitality sector understand and plan for how it is to reopen. Questions like how many people need to be vaccinated before pubs reopen need to be addressed.
Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says: “The pub sector is not calling for a reopening date but we urgently require an understanding of how we get to reopen. Right now, our members exits in an information vacuum that is causing severe distress.
“Countries like Denmark and England have clear timelines for reopening different sectors of society. We need a plan that links the vaccine roll out to reopening. We’re heading into April with no clear idea about how the hospitality sector will get back on its feet.
“Today’s announcement was a missed opportunity as far as the pub sector is concerned. It’s very worrying for our members who badly need a some message of hope for the future” said Mr Cribben.
Hairdressers welcome indication of May reopening but call for greater clarity
The Irish Hairdressers Federation has today welcomed the announcement by Government that the sector could be allowed to reopen in May but asked for further clarity on the dates involved in order to move forward.
According to the Federation’s President, Danielle Kennedy, the sector is welcoming the indication of a May reopening, but are disappointed that no firm commitment or detail was given.
“We would like to thank the Government for listening to our appeal to be allowed to reopen in May, but we would greatly welcome more clarity which salon owners across the country urgently require. Our focus now will be on preparing to reopen safely and responsibly. We have extensive health and safety guidelines in place and we look forward to working the Government as we reopen.’’