Taoiseach says 'we will rebuild our economy', restrictions to be lifted by October 22nd

ireland
Taoiseach Says 'We Will Rebuild Our Economy', Restrictions To Be Lifted By October 22Nd Taoiseach Says 'We Will Rebuild Our Economy', Restrictions To Be Lifted By October 22Nd
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced a “gradual” and “careful” easing of Covid-19 restrictions from next Monday.
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James Cox
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced a “gradual” and “careful” easing of Covid-19 restrictions from next Monday, however, he warned “we are very unlikely to be ever able to say we are rid of this virus completely”.

Martin says as a “country we will find the right way to memorialise those we have lost to the virus”.

“We will rebuild our economy and renew our society,” he added.

Under the new plan, entitled Reframing the Challenge, Continuing Our Recovery and Reconnecting, almost all restrictions will be lifted by October 22nd.

Mr Martin said the easing of restrictions will remain under review if more variants of the virus emerge.

“Obviously, we must remain vigilant and nimble, and if a new dangerous variant of concern emerges or if our hospitals come under unsustainable pressure again, we will move quickly to respond to the situation.”

Memorialise

He also said there will be commemorations for those who have lost their lives to the pandemic.

“As a country we will find the right way to memorialise those who we have lost to this terrible virus, and we look forward to engaging with all of you, the Irish public, in this endeavour.”

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Mr Martin stressed that it will be a difficult winter for the health service, while also highlighting the need for personal responsbility.

Here are the key reopening dates:

September 1st:

Public transport will return to full capacity. From tomorrow, all National Transport Authority buses, trams and trains will return to full capacity, and seating will no longer be blocked off.

September 6th:

There will be an easing of restrictions on organised indoor and outdoor events and mass gatherings.

From that date, theatre, music and live events can take place for vaccinated people at 60 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Religious services will be allowed to proceed at up to 50 per cent capacity.

September 20th:

Restrictions on indoor and outdoor group activities will be eased. Return to work for those still working from home may also commence on a phased and staggered basis from September 20th.

October 22nd:

The plan is to remove the following measures on October 22nd:

  • The legal requirement to prove immunity in order to access indoor hospitality or other events.
  • All remaining restrictions on indoor and outdoor events and activities.
  • All remaining restrictions on religious or civil ceremonies.
  • The legal requirements for mask wearing outdoors and in indoor private settings.

“Even after October 22nd, there will still be a statutory requirement to wear masks in healthcare settings, indoor retail and on public transport,” the Taoiseach added.

Reaction

The latest moves have been welcomed by various sectors of the economy.

The chief executive of the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland, Maura Quinn, said: “Our research has shown a resurgence of optimism among business leaders over the past few months and the Government’s roadmap is a further boost to the economy and to wider society, so it is very much to be welcomed.

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“Nearly 70 per cent of business leaders in our research have also told us that they expect hybrid working models to be part of the future nature of work. That will present challenges, at least initially, and striking a balance will be key. The Government’s guidance and continuing support measures on reopening the economy, workplaces and society, will be key to this plan being a success."

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Reopening announcement: All the key dates
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Chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins said the announcement “goes a long way in terms of outlining a roadmap for the restaurant and hospitality sector with the provision of key dates, metrics and targets, but work must be done regarding business supports for an industry economically flattened since March 2020”.

The Association is calling for a continuation of EWSS wage supports at current rates to June 2022; the extension of the commercial rates waiver in the first quarter of next year; an extension of the 9 per cent VAT rate until 2025; and a review and redrafting of the Stay and Spend Scheme.

Hotels

While the Government’s announcement was welcomed by the Irish Hotels Federation, its president, Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, said “it was very disappointing to note that the limit of 100 guests will continue to apply to weddings given that up to 60 per cent capacity is being allowed at other indoor events. We urge the Government to reconsider and to link the number of guests permitted to the capacity of the venue”.

The drinks industry lobby group has called for an earlier easing of restrictions. Patricia Callan, director of Drinks Ireland, which represents drinks manufacturers and suppliers said: “Currently the plan says that there will be no changes to the current arrangements in the hospitality sector ahead of October 22nd, but we would call for consideration to be given to relaxing some of these measures ahead of that date. As vaccinations will continue to be necessary to enter venues between now and October 22nd, there is scope to allow for increased capacity in venues, removing social distancing requirements, and allowing activities that are prohibited like ordering and sitting at the bar counter. Additionally, we would call for the 11.30pm closure time to be extended.”

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