COVID restrictions to remain until May 18

Country to reopen on a phased basis from then
  • Deborah Condon

People over the age of 70, who have been cocooning at home since March 28, will be allowed to leave their homes from next Tuesday.

Addressing the nation on Friday evening, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, said that from May 5, those over the age of 70 will be allowed to go for a walk or drive within 5km of the homes as long as they have no contact with others.

Meanwhile, the general public will also be allowed to travel 5km from their homes to exercise. They can currently only travel 2km from home.

However, other than that, the current strict restrictions will remain in place until May 18. On that day, the first of five phases aimed at reopening the country will begin.

From that day, outdoor workers will be allowed to return to work, including constructions workers and gardeners. Retail units such as DIY stores will also be allowed reopen, while some sporting activities involving small groups of people will be allowed to resume.

Every few weeks, a new phase will begin, allowing more businesses to reopen and more normality to resume. The five phases will occur on May 18, June 8, June 29, July 20 and the last phase, if all goes to plan, will begin on August 10.

Schools and colleges will not reopen until the next academic year in September and October, however the opening of créches, childminders and pre-schools will begin in a limited way during phases three and four.

Meanwhile, small retail units will be allowed to reopen from phase two, eventually working up to enclosed shopping centres in phase five. However, social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette will remain key.

Cafés and restaurants will be allowed to open in phase three, but again only where social distancing is possible, while the opening of hotels, caravan parks and holidays parks will occur in phase four, although hotel bars will remain closed.

The Taoiseach said that the last few weeks "have transformed our lives in ways we could not have imagined".

"It has been difficult, sometimes dispiriting. Our physical health has been attacked and our mental health eroded...many people are lonely and many are grieving in silence. Many have lost their jobs and many have lost their lives," he said.

He noted that while huge strides have been made in stopping the spread of the virus, "we have not yet won this fight".

He added that the virus "is cruel and inhuman", but everything that people have done so far "has been worthwhile". If restrictions are lifted too early, "we could be back to square one".

Details of the roadmap to reopening society and business can be viewed here.

 

 


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