After taking full account of the current status of COVID-19 in the community, and the public health advice, the government has come to the view that a widespread lifting of restrictions in advance of substantial vaccination would lead to unacceptable increases in infections, hospitalisations and deaths – and thus the very real prospect of having to, once again, reintroduce restrictions.
The better and safer approach is to continue with a phased easing of restrictions until a substantial level of vaccination has been achieved, and then reopen our society. The vaccination programme has entered its second phase, seeing a significant increase in the scale and speed of vaccinations.
As the vaccine programme is scaled up, people are encouraged to stay local and to continue to choose outdoor options over indoor options where possible.
From 12 April
The following phased easing of restrictions will begin on 12 April and continue through the month:
full return to in-school teaching
two households can meet up with one another outdoors for social and recreational purposes (this does not include private gardens). Any meetings outdoors should be safe with continued practising of social distancing and other safe behaviours. Masks should be worn in crowded outdoor spaces
travel restrictions will be relaxed to enable travel within own county or within 20km of residence if crossing county boundaries
all residential construction projects can recommence
Early Learning and Childcare and school aged childcare services will be added to list of essential services for construction activity during these restrictions to align with the current exemption to primary and secondary schools (where school building projects are progressing) and to allow important fire safety works to progress
From 19 April
Expansion of elite sports to include:
training for and playing of National Governing Body sanctioned and organised adult intercounty National Gaelic Games Leagues, not including under 20 or minor competitions
certain high performing athletes as approved by Sport Ireland, in a range of sports
From 26 April (subject to prevailing public health situation)
outdoor sports facilities can reopen (for example: pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, other facilities as appropriate). See notes to editors for further details
outdoor visitor attractions can reopen (that is, zoos, open pet farms, heritage sites). Amusement parks are not permitted to open. See notes to editors for further details
underage non-contact outdoor training in pods of 15 can recommence for all exercise activities that can be delivered outdoors including dance
maximum attendance at funerals will increase to 25 on compassionate grounds. Linked gatherings should not take place before or after funeral services
Vaccine Bonus for those fully vaccinated
current guidance for those most vulnerable to the severe impacts of COVID-19 – the over 70s and the medically vulnerable – will be aligned with that for the general population (for example: regarding use of public transport, going to shops)
those who have the full protection of the vaccine may visit indoors with one other household who also has full protection. See notes to editors for further details
The restrictions that are currently in place continue to have a considerable impact on the social and economic wellbeing of the community. However the vaccination programme gives us a pathway to a return to economic and social activity.
In the meantime Government’s community support, well-being programmes, employment and business supports continue, with the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit applicable to 30 June.
The measures announced today will continue up to the 4th of May, at which point the following areas will be under consideration:
full reopening of construction activity
phased return of non-essential retail commencing with click and collect and outdoor retail, for example: garden centres/nurseries
recommencement of personal services on a staggered basis
reopening of museums, galleries and libraries
recommencement of religious services on a staggered basis
outdoor sports facilities can reopen (for example: pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, other facilities as appropriate). Activities should take place between a maximum of two households. Facilities including club houses and any indoor facilities (for example: changing rooms, showers, kitchens, meeting rooms), apart from essential toilet facilities must remain closed. There should not be any return to team sports or training activities
outdoor visitor attractions can reopen (that is, zoos, open pet farms, heritage sites but not amusement parks) – indoor areas should remain closed and hospitality should only be open for take-away services. Robust protective measures, including appropriate capacity limits, should be in place
those that are fully vaccinated may visit with other fully vaccinated people (from one other household only) indoors without wearing masks or staying 2 metres apart. Full protection is not in place if it has been less than 2 weeks since the second vaccine dose. If a second dose is still awaited, enhanced protected measures should continue to be applied