Published on : Friday, April 30, 2021
The Irish government has announced that Ireland will undergo a phased relaxation of its strict COVID-19 lockdown over the next six weeks. Ever since Christmas, the country has maintained Level Five, its highest level of restrictions amid rising COVID cases. However, Ireland has also successfully contained the new variants of coronavirus ultimately deciding on the relaxation. Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheal Martin praised the public for obeying the lockdown rules during a very tough and unprecedented year but mentioned that continued cooperation was needed for the lockdown relations to proceed as planned.
Starting May 10, Ireland will allow residents to can travel outside their own county for the first time in more than four months. Close-contact services such as hairdressers will also be allowed to reopen and click-and-collect retail will be able to resume. Team sports training has also been permitted to 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 will be able to meet indoors with an unvaccinated one.
All non-essential shops will reopen to customers from May 17 and hotels, guest houses and self-catering accommodation will be permitted to trade from June 2. All pubs, regardless of whether they serve food, along with restaurants are will also be set to open up for outdoor service on June 7. Mr. Martin said in his statement that to enable the ease of restrictions, the key factor will remain sticking with the strategy and a gradual, responsible reopening with everyone observing the rules and respecting the guidance that remains in place. He shared that choices and individual behaviour will remain the key.
The Taoiseach added that the government would keep a close eye on the effect that each rule change has on the spread of COVID-19. He also mentioned that the vaccine rollout had faced some difficulties but was clearly the overriding priority and said no effort will be spared to make sure that every vaccine received into the country is administered as quickly as possible. He stated that COVID-19 vaccines had been transformative in tackling the pandemic around the world and in the Republic of Ireland itself. He said that almost all vulnerable individuals are now protected and it can already be noticed that the rates of death, serious illness, hospital admissions and infections in people who have been vaccinated have collapsed.
He said that although the Republic of Ireland’s vaccine programme had faced a range of challenges including recent supply disruption, almost 30% of people aged over 16 have had one dose to date. On Wednesday, Taoiseach Martin told the Dail (the Irish parliament) that the government hoped it would get close to its target of having more than 80% of the population with a first vaccine dose by the end of June and 55% fully vaccinated. That would require an average of a million people to be vaccinated in April, May and June but ministers and officials concede that they now expect just over 700,000 jabs to be administered by the end of April.