The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has confirmed that Ireland can move to phase 2 of the Government's plan to reopen the country on Monday, June 8.
He also announced that due to the "considerable sacrifices" people have made to restrict the spread of the virus and to protect others, an acceleration of the plan can now take place.
"Based on the medical evidence and the recommendations of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and Government reports on the economic and social impact of COVID-19, Cabinet today agreed to implement all elements of phase 2 and move further along the roadmap, a kind of Phase 2+.
"We have also agreed to bring forward the actions in the remaining phases. So, there will now just be four phases rather than five," Mr Varadkar explained.
Phase 3 will now begin on June 29 and phase 4 on July 20. Mr Varadkar insisted that due to the perseverance of the Irish public in recent months, "we have earned the right to be hopeful about the future again".
However, he emphasised the importance of keeping up the measures that have become a common part of life in recent months - keeping two metres apart where ever possible, washing hands regularly, maintaining good coughing and sneezing etiquette, avoiding crowded places and self-isolating when sick.
Some of the main measures that will come into effect on Monday are:
-People can travel anywhere within their own county, or 20km from their own home if they are crossing county boundaries to visit local venues or amenities, such as shops and parks
-Funerals will be allowed to have up to 25 people in attendance, however social distancing must be maintained
-People can meet groups of up to six people outdoors, but social distancing must be maintained
-People can visit other houses or have people visit theirs, but they are advised to have no more than six people visit at a time and visits should be no longer than one hour. It is recommended that visitors wear face masks and social distancing should be maintained
-Groups of up to 15 people not from the same household can meet outdoors for organised activities, such as sporting events or fitness activities. However social distancing must be maintained and equipment should not be shared
-Activities involving children should involve no more than 12 children, with three supervisors present to ensure public health guidance is followed
-Sports teams can train, but matches cannot be held
-Children's playgrounds will be reopened
-All retail units, other than personal contact services, such as hairdressers and beauty salons, will be allowed to reopen. Shops that are reopening will have to open no earlier than 10.30am each morning, to ensure that crowding on public transport does not occur. Shopping malls can reopen on June 15
-Public libraries will be reopened with limited numbers allowed in.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach also acknowledged that this has been a "particularly difficult period" for those who have been cocooning.
"From Monday, it will be permissible for people in this category to welcome a small number of visitors to their homes, although we are asking that physical distancing is still observed. Shops will also provide dedicated hours for those who are over 70 or in an at-risk group," Mr Varadkar noted.
People who can continue to work from home should do so and the message for phase 2 is to "stay local".
"As our country opens up and we start interacting more, personal responsibility becomes even more important than ever. We got into this fight against COVID-19 together, and we will only get out of it together," the Taoiseach added.
For more information on the measures contained in phase 2, click here.
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