It has been confirmed that many coronavirus restrictions will now be lifted earlier than planned on June 29th.
Most measures are now being moved forward to phase three of the reopening plan, the Taoiseach has confirmed.
From June 29th barbers, hairdressers and beauticians will be allowed to reopen, alongside hotels, restaurants and pubs that serve food.
All sports - including contact sports - will be allowed to resume from the end of June as well, while there will be significant changes to the rules around public gatherings.
Up to 50 people will be allowed to meet indoors from June 29th, rising to 100 in late July.
Outdoors up to 200 can meet with social distancing from the end of the month, later rising to 500.
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) June 19, 2020
The changes mean many weddings will be able to go ahead.
Cinemas are also set to reopen from June 29th, along with leisure facilities.
The changes also mean spectators will be allowed back at sporting events in reduced numbers.
Health Minister Simon Harris this evening confirmed a date for resumption of cancer screening services will be released in the coming 10 days.
He said CervicalCheck should be back quickly, but other services might take a little longer.
There was no decision today on when restrictions on foreign travel will be lifted, but the Taoiseach indicated a decision might be made next week.
'Most things being moved to phase three'
In a statement at Government Buildings this evening, Leo Varadkar confirmed Cabinet had signed off on plans to speed-up the reopening of the country.
He said: "Apart from some exceptions, most things are now being moved to phase three - beginning on Monday 29th June.
"All sporting activity - including close contact sports - can recommence. But we all need to stay careful - it will not be as it were before the pandemic."
He pointed to churches, places of worship, gyms, cinemas, leisure facilities, hairdressers, beauticians and barber shops as some of the places that will be allowed reopen.
He stressed the announcement comes with 'terms & conditions' as the virus remains in the country, and said people should keep four things in mind:
- Distance: Always try to stay 2 metres apart from someone else if possible
- Activity: Wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering on public transport or in a crowded indoor space
- Time: The amount of time you spend with a person or group increases your risk
- Environment: Always bear in mind that a closed, poorly ventilated indoor space is much riskier than being outdoors
People are still being urged to maintain social distancing and wear face coverings in crowded areas.
On the subject of personal responsibility, the Taoiseach suggested: "It means not entering somewhere if you see that it's packed... it means leaving a place - even if you're having a good time - if you've been there too long.
"We will need to continue to act responsibility, understand that we have no treatment or vaccine for this virus and until such time as we do, we will be living a different type of life.
"But a life where we can again do so many things that are important to us and our families."
The Taoiseach said people are still being advised to work from home if they can.