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Phase one of Lockdown Lifting begins today: here’s what that does (and doesn’t) mean


by Erin Lindsay
18th May 2020

Can I go to IKEA? Can I meet up with friends? Can I go to the beach? An explainer of what the first phase of lockdown easing means for Ireland


As of this morning, Ireland has officially begun its easing of Covid-19 restrictions, with a view to gradually return to normality over the course of the summer. But, as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made clear in his address to the nation on Friday, the mood should not be one of celebration, but rather cautious optimism.

While some restrictions have been lifted today, the country’s trajectory wholly depends on how we behave during each stage — if things don’t stabilise in Phase One, we may not be able to move onto Phase Two on June 8 as planned.

That’s why it’s so important to understand exactly what each stage entails, and what we can and can’t do now that easing has started. If you’re in the dark about what you can and can’t do from today until June 8, here’s a guide.

Gathering together

From today, small groups of up to four people from different households can meet up. The gathering must be outside, and everyone must social distance from each other.

These gatherings must take place within the 5km radius of your home.

Sport and exercise

You can exercise within a 5km radius of your home. Places like beaches and mountain walks that may have been closed until now can reopen from today, provided that the public maintain social distancing.

Outdoor public sporting grounds, like golf courses and tennis courts, can reopen today; again, as long as social distancing can be maintained.

You can also take part in small group sporting activities, of no more than four people, as long as they take place outside, there is no contact and you can remain 2 metres apart. Activities like outdoor yoga or fitness classes are great.

Homeware versus hardware

IKEA is not opening today. Homeware shops are not included in the list of retail outlets permitted to open their doors from May 18.

Hardware shops, that primarily sell tools and equipment for gardening, farming and home repair are able to open today.

Other retail outlets that will be open from today include bike repair shops, car repair garages, electrical, IT and phone repair and sales and opticians.

Returning to work

Construction workers, and outdoor workers in industries such as farming and gardening can return to work today, as long as it is safe to do so.

Everyone who can still work from home should continue to do so.

Face coverings

The government has recommended that the public wear face coverings when using public transport or in an enclosed indoor public space, like a supermarket. You can make these easily at home, or buy from Irish sellers. To find out more about the benefits of wearing a face mask, you can read ‘To mask or not to mask‘ here.


Read more: Re-entry anxiety: I don’t know if I want things to go back to normal

Read more: Esther O’Moore Donohoe: I wanted hugs, I wanted friends and family. I wanted a McFlurry and a 3 in 1

Read more: Seven Irish children are being investigated for an inflammatory disease possibly linked to Covid-19

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