And end to most Covid-19 restrictions has been announced by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who said Ireland had “kept our head as a country”, followed the best health advice and stuck together during the worst of the pandemic.
While Mr Martin stressed that the Government would not hesitate to “respond quickly” should a sharp increase in infections threaten to overwhelm hospitals, the latest reopening plan, if implemented as envisaged, will see almost all restrictions removed by October 22nd.
The Taoiseach set out a plan for a phased lifting of the remaining restrictions. Public transport will revert to full capacity from Wednesday, and next Monday will bring an easing of limits on indoor and outdoor events and religious services.
There will be further changes on September 20th, when offices will begin to reopen. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he expected people to embrace “blended working”, dividing their time between home and the workplace.
From October 22nd, rules on physical distancing and mask-wearing in most circumstances will lapse, though face coverings will still be required on public transport, in healthcare settings and for indoor retail. A review of the need for masks in classrooms has been requested.
In an address to the nation, Micheál Martin said sectors that have been shut can “hope again” as he announced the Government’s plan for the next two months.
The changes announced are: