Everything we know so far about the planned easing of restrictions from next week 1 month ago

Everything we know so far about the planned easing of restrictions from next week

Here's hoping for some good news.

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the proposed easing of restrictions next week and early May and hope that an end to lockdown might soon be in sight.

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While the Government has yet to give a timeline for reopening, various ministers have dropped plenty of hints about which sectors could possibly be making a return first.

Here's everything we know so far.

When is the Government meeting?

Decisions will be made by the Government next week about reopening sectors of society in May, with a timeline for what's to come in June and July also set to be revealed.

The cabinet is set to meet next Friday(30 April) instead of Tuesday(27 April), as had originally been scheduled, to discuss the reopening and take on public health advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

The next phase of eased restrictions is likely to come into effect from 4 May, after the bank holiday weekend.

Retail and hair salons

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he is hoping to be able to "signal positive news" to hairdressers and barbers as of next week.

Speaking to the Dáil on Tuesday, he said: "We hope to be able to signal positive news for hairdressers and barbers next week".

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also recently reaffirmed his hope of reopening hair salons and non-essential retail across Ireland from May.

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland he said that the government is planning a phased reopening of these services, beginning in May.

"So what we will do in two weeks' time, so the end of April, we will look at the plan for May," he said.

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"What we're planning is allowing more outdoor activities, a phase three reopening of retail, and of personal services."

Religious services 

Speaking at Leader's Questions on Tuesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that he regards religious worship as a "fundamental right in any democratic society" and is meeting with church groups about the reopening of certain services during the next phase of restrictions.

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Addressing Deputy Martin Kenny, he said: "I regard religious worship as a very fundamental right in any democratic society, and I think we should acknowledge that the application of very stringent public health emergency legislation does impose many restrictions on personal liberties and civil liberties.

"We rarely, or in ordinary times, would impose such restrictions on people more generally. But a global pandemic is such a context, and it's the common good that must prevail in a global pandemic."

Martin added that he has met with church groups over the past number of weeks and is hopeful that the government will be able to look at the easing of restrictions on religious services soon.

Some limitations on certain religious ceremonies such as funerals have already been looked at by the cabinet, with 25 people allowed to attend funerals from 26 April.

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Construction

From 12 April, all residential construction projects were allowed to recommence.

A full reopening of construction will be considered from 4 May, subject to public health guidance - however, it is one of the sectors most likely to return.

Travel

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also gave a hopeful update on the return of the aviation industry on Wednesday, saying that vaccine passports, which will allow a phased return of travel, could be operational by July.

Speaking to Dermot and Dave on Today FM, Varadkar said that, for holidays abroad to make a return, vaccine passports will most likely have to be incorporated.

He added that Ireland would most likely use the European Green Certificates, which he noted should be operational by July.

"Aviation is an industry that has been really hammered by all of this, I'm looking forward to getting on a plane as soon as it's possible to do so," Varadkar said.

"We have taken a stricter line with this than other countries, partially because we're an island, and we are able to do things like quarantine that would be harder to do in other places.

"I do think where we are going to end up on this is the vaccine pass, which is this European-wide vaccine passport that says that you're fully vaccinated. That will be up and running in July, which will probably allow a slow return to aviation."

The hospitality sector - pubs and restaurants 

Last week, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he was "increasingly confident" that indoor dining and pubs will be able to reopen by July - a statement which has been echoed by a number of politicians in recent days.

Speaking at a press conference outside Government Buildings last week, Varadkar said that although outdoor dining is evidently safer, he "hopes to get to the point where both would be possible".

When asked if pubs and restaurants will be included in that plan, the Tanáiste said: “We would expect to be in a position at the end of April to give an indication as to how hospitality might reopen across the course of June or July.

“We’ve no detail on that yet, but it is evident and increasingly evident that outdoor dining is much safer than indoor.

“But you know, I’d hope to get to the point where both would be possible, and you know, I’m increasingly confident that both would be possible over the course of the summer. But I don’t want to raise expectation either and give false hope and really it’ll be the end of April before we’re in a position to do that again.”