An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin has provided details of further easing of Covid-19 restrictions, in his address to the nation this evening, just after 6pm, in steps to reopen the country. Hotels and guest houses are to reopen from the 2nd of June.
Meanwhile, cinemas, theatre and gyms will reopen on the 7th of June. Outdoor service at pubs and restaurants will resume from the 7th of June. The 7th of June also represents the day, in which ‘up to 200 people can attend in venues with a minimum capacity of 5,000’, according to RTÉ.
100 people can gather for outdoor events and driver theory test services will reopen. From this date, there will also be an incremental return of driving test centres’. Indoor service in all pubs and restaurants will not resume until the 5th of July.
RTÉ elaborated further by saying that, ‘it will also see a return of indoor events, 100 people can gather inside larger venues and 50 in all other venue’. Non-essential international travel will resume on the 19th of July when the EU Digital Green Certificate comes into force, as agreed by the Irish Government.
Indoor service in all pubs and restaurants will not resume until the 5th of July. RTÉ stated that, ‘Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said it is clear that Ireland and its people are embracing the national vaccination programme, given that over half of the eligible population will have received a dose by next Monday.
Speaking during a national address this evening on plans for reopening society during the summer, the Taoiseach said each time he has stood in front of the nation, he has asked people to continue to exercise caution and trust the science, adding that as a country, Ireland has trusted that science.
He said while he notes that has at times this has been frustrating, in terms of protecting people, it was the right move. He said that the best evidence of Ireland's trust in science was the high uptake of Covid-19 vaccines here’.
Further, RTÉ said that Taoiseach, Micheál Martin said that "it is clear Irish people have are embracing the national vaccination programme and it is powering ahead." He said more than 2.6 million vaccines have been given, and over half of the eligible population will have received a dose by next Monday.
Mr Martin said almost 100% of citizens over the age of 70 have now been fully vaccinated - the highest in the EU, he said. The evidence of the vaccine on Covid metrics was "absolutely beyond doubt", he said, adding that the strategy was working’.
‘The Taoiseach has said that the Government's number one priority is to protect life and public health. Speaking during a national address this evening on plans for reopening society during summer, Micheál Martin said they were also "very focused on rebuilding society and economy as we emerge from the pandemic".
Much work, he said, has already been done on this, adding that next week a national economic recovery plan will be launched to chart a way forward for the country’.
‘Micheál Martin said he was conscious of the challenges faced by sectors which have been closed longest and have suffered the most. He said the Government has agreed a number of interim supports to help those sectors reopen. Pubs and bars which do not serve food will receive a one-off grant scheme.
The events industry will also receive supports to be announced in the coming week, he said. While the range of supports currently in place, he said, will not fully compensate for a year of lost business, he said they demonstrate the Government's commitment to supporting businesses’.
‘The Taoiseach has said that Ireland will begin operating the EU Digital Covid Cert from 19 July. Micheál Martin said he understood the importance of the aviation and tourism sectors, adding that international connectivity was critical to Ireland's place in the world, with many jobs and livelihoods dependent on it. Mr Martin said he also understood "very clearly" the need to get international travel back in a safe and sustainable way.
This is an important time for us all. After the trauma of the last 15 months, we are finally taking definite steps toward enjoying normal times with friends and loved ones again," he said. We are almost back to a point where we can enjoy the ordinary and extraordinary moments in our lives, the excitement and relief is palpable," he added’.
‘Indoor exercise and sport activities will return, as well as a further relaxation on visits to private homes. Up to 50 guests can attend wedding receptions. Subject to continued progress with the virus, from 5 August, there will be a further increase numbers attending indoor events, with 200 in larger venues and 100 in all others.
There will also be a further increase in numbers attending outdoor events. The 50% capacity restriction on public transport will be lifted and 100 guests can attend weddings. He said the direction of travel is clear and positive’. These easing of Covid-19 restrictions have been welcomed by the Arts Council and IBEC.
In summary, the announcement of a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions will be welcome news to many industries. However, this further easing of restrictions and reopening of certain industries, has not been welcomed unanimously by all industries, as pub and restaurant owners and the industry are unhappy at the prospect of no indoor service in pubs and restaurants, which serve indoors, not resuming until the 5th of July.
This compares to hotels and guest houses which are to reopen on the 2nd of June and can serve food indoors. The 19th of July is likely to be a landmark day in which non-essential international travel resumes under the adopted EU Digital Green Certificate which has been adopted by the Irish Government. Whether this opening up of industries such as the hotel and restaurants’ industry remains permanent, or whether a repeat of last year takes place, and we end up in another lockdown, it remains to be seen.