Irish Taoiseach Announces Ease of COVID-19 Lock-Down Restrictions
It was a slightly more upbeat Irish Prime Minister who addressed the nation this evening to announce the latest updates on Covid restrictions. The country has been in a strict Level 5 lock-down following a dramatic rise in cases after the Christmas holidays, when the country was opened for an extended period. Cases rose dramatically in Ireland following the December ease of restrictions, with Ireland recording the highest number of new Covid cases per head of population in the world. The Government came in for harsh criticism at the time with claims that it had not fully followed the advice of NEPHET, Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team.
Irish leader, Taoiseach Michael Martin, looked visibly more relaxed this evening as he was finally able to deliver the news people across the country had been waiting to hear, and this time, it was with the full support of NEPHET.
From May 4th, all construction work is set to resume along with other outdoor work. From May 10th, people will be able to travel across counties, up to 6 people from 3 households can gather in gardens and outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people will be allowed. Retail click and collect services will resume and personal services including hairdressers will reopen. Cultural attractions will also open and up to 50 people will be able to attend wedding and funeral services. People who are vaccinated will be able to visit each other indoors in households.
From May 17th, all remaining retail will open and from June 2nd, some hospitality services, including B&Bs and hotels can also reopen with services restricted to overnight guests and residents.
Ireland’s vaccination program has been beset with supply issues and with a number of vaccination targets having been significantly missed. The vaccination program does appear to have ramped up, with 211,000 vaccinations delivered over the last seven days.
The plans to reopen the country are heavily dependent on the successful acceleration of the vaccine program and on reaching the target to have 80% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose by the end of June.
474 additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Ireland today with 3 additional deaths. That brings to 4899 the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the country to date, with a total of 248,326 confirmed cases.
Latest vaccination figures show 1,452,434 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in Ireland with 1,041,284 people having received their first dose and 411,150 people having received their second dose.
The Taoiseach also announced that a number of higher-risk activities will be considered at the end of June for reopening later in the year. These include:
- indoor hospitality (restaurants, bars, nightclubs, casinos)
- indoor team/group sports including matches, training and exercise classes
- mass gatherings/events (including spectators) indoors and outdoors
- international travel