The Cabinet has formally approved plans to allow a “significant reopening” of the country from next week.
As expected, Ministers signed off on the reopening of hotels on June 2nd and the return of outdoor hospitality on June 7th. The Irish Times reports that cinemas are also expected to reopen on June 7th.
Indoor dining is set to return on July 5th. International travel will resume on July 19th when the Government adopts the European Union travel certificate.
This will allow passengers to travel throughout the EU without facing mandatory hotel quarantine on their return.
Throughout June and July, test matches and concerts will be held around the country.
What we know about the Government's plans so far
- Hotels to reopen on June 2nd
- Outdoor hospitality to reopen on June 7th
- Indoor hospitality to resume on July 5th
- International travel to resume from July 19th under EU's Digital Green Certificate scheme
- July will see numbers at outdoor events increase to 100 people or 200 at larger venues
- Wedding guests will rise to 50 people indoors in July, and 100 in August
- Up to 5,000 spectators at outdoor events in large stadia from August 2nd, while smaller venues can have 500 people
- Also in August indoor events in larger venues could have 200 people, while smaller indoor venues will be limited to 100 people.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said that while there will be a “significant reopening” of society in the next two months, he warned the public to be careful.
Speaking to the media as he left the Cabinet meeting, Mr Ryan said: “We still have to be careful, I’ll be honest.
“The risk is low to medium, that’s the way the health officials put it. That’s always in the back of my mind, you have to be careful.
“Every week there’s another 200,000 to 300,000 people getting their first vaccine or second vaccine, that will give us protection.
“But we still only have about half the adult population have got their first one and about 20 per cent will have got their second one by the end of this week.
“That’s great but the higher that goes, the safer we are, so I’m still on the cautious side. It is a significant reopening, there’s no doubt about it.”
He said the Government has been assessing the threat posed by the Indian variant of coronavirus in recent days.
“We will set up a special group to look at it and to keep an eye on it. That’s the real risk – we have seen in the past that variants can change the picture, so we are going to have to be careful.
“What’s been very interesting is how stable it has been in the last three months, it’s been at that 400 level.
“The hospitalisations picked up last week but it has come back down again, and we have to keep an eye out on it.”
Common Travel Area
Earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the State is “not in a position to restore the Common Travel Area yet” due to “real concerns” about the spread of the Indian variant in Britain.
According to The Irish Times, he said there would be a phased return to international travel through the summer months but that it was “not going to be international travel as you knew it”.
“There will be restrictions, requirements around vaccines and testings,” he said, adding there would also be different rules in place for different countries.
Mr Varadkar confirmed that Belgium, France and Luxembourg were being taken off the mandatory hotel quarantine list but cautioned that any person booking a holiday abroad should recognise the situation could change and result in their destination becoming a red zone.
The Tánaiste also said delays in deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines will be felt more for inward and outward international tourism than it would for Irish businesses reopening.
He said the Government's target of vaccinating 80 per cent of adults with a first dose was now somewhere in the mid-70s, with more than 60 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated by mid-July.
Mr Varadkar said that while the rollout is behind, it is not substantial enough to change the course of the reopening plan.
Mr Varadkar said that every week that Ireland does not reopen fully is another 300,000 people vaccinated and this means there is a virtue in waiting.
Different type of travel
“Just waiting a month allows 1.2 million people be vaccinated or fully vaccinated. By the end of July, 2.5 million will be vaccinated or fully vaccinated,” he said.
He said all EU countries will come off the mandatory hotel quarantine list, but countries could be added to red lists after people travel, which is something that travellers need to take into account.
Mr Varadkar said that today's announcement is being made possible because of stable case numbers and a decline in those in ICUs across the country.
He said that the low number of healthcare workers contracting the virus shows that the vaccine programme is working, calling the vaccines “a miracle of science and enterprise”.