Ireland to start easing strict lockdown rules

Photo: EPA Micheal Martin

The Irish government announced a phased relaxation of its strict Covid-19 lockdown over the next six weeks, news wires reported. The country has been under high level of restrictions since Christmas.

Under the plan on 10 May services such as hairdressers can reopen and click-and-collect retail can resume. From the same date, people can travel outside their own county for the first time in more than four months, and team sports training can resume. Up to 50 people will be allowed to attend weddings, funerals and other religious services. To allow grandparents meet their grandchildren and extended families, a vaccinated household can meet indoors with an unvaccinated one.

From 17 May, all non-essential shops can reopen to customers. From 2 June, hotels, guest houses and self-catering accommodation will be permitted to trade. All pubs, regardless of whether they serve food, along with restaurants are set to open up for outdoor service on 7 June.

Irish PM Micheal Martin praised the public for obeying the lockdown rules during a "very tough and unprecedented year" but he added that continued cooperation was needed for the lockdown relations to proceed as planned. "To enable all of this, the key factor remains sticking with the strategy - a gradual, responsible reopening with all of us observing the rules and respecting the guidance that remains in place," he said.

The PM pointed out that the government would keep a close eye on the effect that each rule change has on the spread of Covid-19. The relaxation is premised on containing the new variants of coronavirus and a massive acceleration of the vaccination programme which is way behind target.

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