Covid reopening: Government will not accelerate summer plans

ireland
Covid Reopening: Government Will Not Accelerate Summer Plans
Crowds on Brittas Bay beach, Co Wicklow, during the summer of 2020. Photo: PA Images.
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A “slow” reopening of the country as Covid-19 restrictions loosen will help avoid setbacks and a fourth wave of the disease, the Tánaiste has said.

The Irish Times reports that Leo Varadkar said setbacks in the Government’s reopening plan could be avoided by “going slowly” until more than half the population is vaccinated.

With this view, the Government is set to resist pressure to accelerate the planned summer reopening of the country as case numbers remain high and only 25 per cent of the eligible population has received a first vaccine dose.

“The Government will meet this Thursday to set out a clear plan for easing restrictions in May. There will also be a clear indication of what June and July are going to be like,” Mr Varadkar said last night.

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“Our absolute goal is to avoid a fourth wave of hospitalisations, and of deaths, in Ireland. The experience from Christmas and the situation in India shows how quickly this virus can take over.

“We also see from Israel just how effective vaccines are. There is still a lot of uncertainly ahead and the road will be bumpy but things are going in the right direction. By going slowly until more than half of the population is vaccinated we are taking the best course of action to avoid a major setback.”

Summer reopening

The Cabinet will this week announce what sectors are likely to reopen throughout May, June, July and beyond.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said earlier on Sunday that “outdoor is the theme for the summer”.

A formal announcement on the reopening will be made on Thursday, following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Wednesday.

The resumption of construction, the reopening of hairdressers and personal services, the phased return of retail and the return in-person religious services have been earmarked for the month of May.

Sources say Government plans are on track to allow for the reopening of guesthouses and hotels in the month of June, and to lift the ban on travelling outside county boundaries at the same time.

It is thought indoor hospitality will only fully resume some time in July.

It comes as a number of Covid-19 restrictions ease from today, as outdoor sports facilities, such as pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, can reopen, along with zoos, open pet farms and heritage sites.

Underage non-contact outdoor training can recommence in pods of 15 or fewer, and the maximum attendance at funerals will increase to 25.

Meanwhile, it is expected that India will be added to the State’s hotel quarantine list either today or tomorrow, while the National Immunisation Advisory Committee is expected to meet today to consider use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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