Here's what to expect this summer.
The easing of restrictions has been a slow process since the start of this year, leaving many of us wondering when things will begin to reopen.
Plans are begin presented to Cabinet today and NPHET has greenlit a phased reopening of hairdressers, beauty salons, non-essential retail and hospitality services.
Here’s what to expect over the coming months.
What’s open now
From April 26, outdoor sports facilities have been allowed to reopen, including pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, while team sports and training are still prohibited – with the exception of underage, non-contact outdoor training in pods of 15 maximum.
Outdoor visitor attractions can reopen too (zoos, open pet farms, heritage sites but not amusement parks). Indoor areas remain closed and hospitality is only open for take-away services.
Activities should take place between a maximum of two households, and those who are fully vaccinated may visit with other fully vaccinated people, from one other household only, indoors without wearing masks or staying two metres apart.
(Full protection is not in place if a second vaccine dose is still awaited or if it’s been less than two weeks since the second dose.)
Also, the maximum attendance at funerals has increased to 25.
The plan for this summer
Lots happening on May 10. Hairdressers and beauty salons may reopen on a staggered basis, as will all construction. Inter-county travel will be allowed, click and collect returns with the rest of non-essential retail expected to be phased in in the coming weeks. In-person religious services of up to 50 people is expected from that date, although indoor wedding receptions must remain at six people or 15 outdoors (including a marquee).
The hospitality sector is expected to reopen in June. On June 2, hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses can reopen, while on June 7 will see the opening of outdoor dining and beer gardens. Pubs are no longer required to fulfil the €9 food order either. Indoor wedding receptions are expected to increase to 25 people.
Indoor service in restaurants and pub expected to resume.
There is also some relaxing of rules specifically for vaccinated people, of which those who received their first AstraZeneca vaccine more than four weeks ago are included. From May they can meet indoors with other fully vaccinated people without masks or socially distancing.
This plan is, of course, contingent on current case numbers and vaccine roll-out, but hopefully, if case numbers decrease, we will see a slow and steady return to normality before the end of the summer.