'All remaining restrictions' on events set to be lifted by October 22nd


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.16 31 Aug 2021


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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced a roadmap for the ending of almost all COVID-19 restrictions by October 22nd.

The current measures will start to be relaxed from next week, when capacity limits at indoor and outdoor events will increase.

The new plan also allows for employers to start bringing staff back to the workplace from September 20th.

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However, the recommendations around mask-wearing in shops and on public transport will remain beyond October.

Addressing the nation, Micheál Martin said people’s effort and sacrifice over the last year had “saved lives”.

The Taoiseach said Ireland’s COVID-19 strategy this year has worked, with different sectors “reopening and staying opening” and the vaccination programme “powering ahead”.

He said the country’s now entering a “whole new phase” of the pandemic.

He said it’s unlikely Ireland will be able to get rid of the virus completely, and an increase in cases is likely over the next few weeks.

However, he said the current situation - including vaccination rates that are 'the envy of much of the world' - means the approach can now change.

He said there will be a move from legal restrictions to a focus on “public health advice and personal behaviour”.

'All remaining restrictions' to ease

The Taoiseach stressed there could be new restrictions if a dangerous new variant emerges or hospitals come under excessive pressure.

However, he said restrictions will now be eased gradually in September ahead of a “significant” change in approach at the end of October.

He said the Government hopes to be able to remove “all remaining restrictions” on indoor and outdoor events from October 22nd.

The Taoiseach stressed the pandemic is not over, and "great uncertainties remain" due to the Delta variant.

However, he said: "We will push on to complete our vaccination programme, including a winter booster programme that will commence in the coming weeks.

"And we will play our full and active part in making vaccines available to vulnerable people all around the world.

"We will rebuild our economy and renew our society. We will do these and all the other things, with renewed energy and determination, with personal freedoms restored and our country, we hope, emerging from this most extraordinary period in our history."

Roadmap

Public transport will be back at full capacity from tomorrow morning, although mask-wearing rules will remain.

From Monday September 6th, increased numbers will be allowed at both indoor and outdoor events such as concerts and sports grounds.

Where crowds are fully vaccinated, indoor crowds will be capped at 60% of the venue’s capacity, while outdoor crowds will be capped at 75%.

Live music will be allowed indoors at weddings and in bars, while communions and confirmations will no longer be advised against.

Workers who’ve been working from home able will be able to return to the office on a “phased and staggered” basis from September 20th.

Bingo halls, bowling alleys and indoor activities for children will also return on September 20th.

Digital COVID certs will likely be required for indoor events at first, but from October 22nd they'll no longer be required at all unless travelling abroad.

Nightclubs will likely be the last to open, with the Government planning to run a pilot event in September.

Rules around mask-wearing are set to continue for healthcare settings, public transport and shops beyond October.


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