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Home NEWS Coronavirus: Taoiseach confirms Phase 1 of lockdown easing to begin Monday

Coronavirus: Taoiseach confirms Phase 1 of lockdown easing to begin Monday

Phase 1 of easing the lockdown restrictions will go ahead as planned on Monday, with new health advice for the changing circumstances, including wearing face coverings.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that lockdown restrictions will begin to ease from Monday in an announcement made this afternoon after the Cabinet signed off on plans earlier today.

The Cabinet made its decision based on advice from the NPHET, after which the Taoiseach informed the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland

“This gives us reason to hope, but it is not a cause for celebration. We have a long way to go yet.”

“There will be bumps in the road and we have to keep our guard up,” the Taoiseach said.

This is only the first part of slow and measured lifting of restrictions which will continue throughout the summer, with some more retail outlets and commercial services allowed to reopen from May 18.

Monday will also see a limited return of people being allowed to meet with others from outside their household, but with strict social distancing requirements.

People are still advised to remain home as much as possible, only leaving to travel to and from work; attend medical appointments; for vital family reasons; shopping, including expanded retail, personal, and commercial services; or for farming or food production reasons.

The nationwide travel limit lockdown restriction to 5km from your home, outside of the reasons listed above, remains in place.

When people are outside of the house in situations where social distancing is not possible, such as on crowded public transport, they are advised to wear a face covering.

This is however, hygiene advice similar to regular handwashing and proper sneezing/coughing etiquette, and not a legal requirement.

Work and Social outlets

Anyone who can continue to work from home is advised to do so, and where people have to return to the workplace, employers must have preparations in place to limit the interaction of workers and encourage social distancing.

Retail outlets covered by these new arrangements include:

1. Retail outlets that are primarily outdoor (for example, garden centres, farmer’s markets, hardware stores and so on) may reopen

2. Retail outlets, in addition to those that are currently open.

These include:

  • opticians and optometrists, outlets providing hearing test services, selling hearing aids and appliances
  • retailers involved in the sale, supply and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycle repair and related facilities
  • hardware stores, builders’ merchants and stores that provide hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance, sanitation and farm equipment, supplies and tools essential for gardening / farming /agriculture
  • retail sale of office products and services for individuals working from home and for businesses
  • retailers providing electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home and businesses

Outside of work, groups of up to four people from different households will be able to meet outside from Monday, so long as they remain at least 2m apart.

Outdoor public amenities and tourism sites such as parks, beaches, mountain walks, heritage and cultural sites can reopen from Monday, May 18.

As can outdoor sports facilities such as pitches, tennis courts and golf courses, with strict social distancing in place.

The government’s roadmap for lifting the nationwide lockdown restrictions will continue over five phases this summer, with phase 5 not beginning until August 10.

All of this is dependent on infections and deaths from Covid-19 continuing to follow the trend of declining.

“Nothing is guaranteed. The only thing that is inevitable is the spread of the virus unless we push it back every day.”

“Coronavirus is a ‘fire in retreat; but it is not defeated. We must extinguish every spark, quench every ember.”

“We are all bound together in this great national effort and we must rely on each other if we are to succeed.”

Briain Kelly
Email: news@galwaydaily.com
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