Restaurant owners will not need to get planning permission to turn their businesses into takeaways during the coronavirus crisis.
Planning rules are being loosened to help speed up the response to the pandemic and to help businesses adapt to the current situation.
It also means any new hospitals, isolation units, step-down care centres or other infrastructure needed to fight the pandemic will be able to bypass the planning process.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has announced the move after consulting with local government planners in recent days.
During the emergency period, restaurant owners also won't need to get planning permission to switch to a takeaways.
Businesses such as supermarkets that have their opening hours limited by conditions to their planning permission will be allowed open longer too.
Local councils have told the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government that keeping food and other essential supplies moving has to come first, and they don't envisage taking enforcement action over technical breaches during the emergency.
Minister Murphy explained: "The measures we are proposing remove planning barriers for temporary medical facilities, allow hard hit restaurants adapt, protect the supply chain, and preserve the integrity of decision making and public participation in the planning process.
"We will keep the situation under constant review as this crisis evolves and respond to any emerging issues in the coming weeks and months.”
His department notes that many regulations were designed with normal “business as usual” circumstances in mind, and cannot be allowed to act as a barrier during the COVID-19 crisis.
Restaurants and takeaways across the country have been introducing new measures to respond to the current restrictions on movement and gatherings, including introducing services such as contactless food delivery or collection.