Dublin, Ireland – The Irish government has announced plans to gradually ease Covid-19 restrictions over the coming months, with the aim of reopening the country fully by the end of the summer. The decision comes as Ireland’s vaccination program continues to roll out, with over 20% of the population having received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Under the new plan, Ireland will move from its current Level 5 restrictions to a modified Level 4 from April 12th. This will see the reopening of non-essential retail, personal services such as hairdressers and barbers, and outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks. Outdoor sports training for adults in pods of a maximum of 15 people will also be permitted.
From May 4th, the government plans to introduce a phased reopening of hospitality, with outdoor dining and bar service permitted for groups of up to six people from no more than three households. Gyms, swimming pools, and leisure centers will also be allowed to reopen for individual training only.
The next phase of reopening is set for June 2nd, with indoor dining and drinking permitted for groups of up to six people from no more than three households. Hotels, B&Bs, and guesthouses will also be allowed to reopen to guests.
Finally, from July 5th, the government plans to remove most remaining restrictions, including limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and the resumption of live events. The government has stressed that these plans are contingent on the continued success of the vaccination program and the ongoing suppression of the virus.
The announcement has been welcomed by many in the hospitality and tourism industries, which have been hit hard by the pandemic. However, some have criticized the slow pace of the reopening, arguing that it will be too late for many businesses that have already closed permanently.
The Irish government has also announced plans to introduce a “vaccine passport” system, which would allow those who have been fully vaccinated to travel freely within the EU. The proposal has been met with some skepticism, with concerns raised about the potential for discrimination against those who have not yet been vaccinated.
In response to these concerns, the government has emphasized that the vaccine passport would only be introduced in line with EU-wide guidelines and would not be used domestically in Ireland. The proposal is still in the early stages of development, and it remains to be seen how it will be implemented.
Overall, the announcement of the reopening plan has been seen as a positive step forward for Ireland’s recovery from the pandemic. However, the government will need to continue to balance the need for economic recovery with the ongoing public health concerns posed by the virus.