01 Sep Government to lift COVID-19 restrictions
The Cabinet has agreed to a plan that will lift the majority of COVID-19 restrictions on 22 October. Taoisech, Micheál Martin, announced the reopening plans in a televised address.
The lifting of restrictions will be contingent on COVID-19 cases remaining manageable and 90% of adults being fully vaccinated.
Here are the main points from the Government’s reopening plan:
- Masks still required in the health and retail sectors and on public transport.
- From 6 September, up to 50% capacity allowed to gather in places of worship for religious ceremonies.
- Outdoor sports events can have 50% capacity in stadiums.
- Indoor venues can operate at 60% capacity for events for those who are vaccinated, while outdoor events can operate at 75% capacity for those who are vaccinated.
- Live music indoors will return at weddings and in bars.
- Full return of students to colleges.
- Coaches allowed to carry 75% capacity from 6 September.
- Phased return to the workplace to begin from 20 September.
- Indoor after-school activities and indoor sports to return on 20 September.
Depending on a number of factors, including 90pc of all people aged over 16 being vaccinated, the remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted on October 22.
Other criteria such as the number of people in hospital due to the virus will be taken into account before a final decision is made.
However, the plan is to end all public health regulations on this date and move towards guidelines and personal responsibility.
Announcing the plans to lift the COVID-19 restrictions, Mr. Martin warned that “the pandemic is not over” and emphasised the Government’s new focus on guidelines and personal responsibility. He said “We are now entering a whole new phase of the pandemic. I never thought there would be a day where we could announce the pandemic is over, we are very unlikely to say to be rid of this virus completely. We will likely see an increase in numbers of the coming weeks. Sectors that remain closed can begin to hope again.”
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said 22 October should not be viewed as “freedom day” but the first day of a “new normal”. He said that this will include a hybrid working system where office workers can work between home, remote hubs and the office. Mr Varadkar added that “the pandemic is definitely not over”