Agreement has been reached between the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the Government leading to the next phase of the country’s response to COVID-19.
Over 88% of the population over 18 are fully vaccinated, with almost 92% of adults (aged 18 and over) having received at least one dose. Subject to the continuation of this progress, the country will enter the next phase on the 22nd October, and it is likely to last until at least next Spring.
This phase will see the majority of restrictions lifted and replaced by guidance and advice. The Government has agreed that during the interim period between 1st September and 22nd October, we will continue our careful and gradual approach to re-opening, while supporting maximum reach of the vaccine programme and allowing time to achieve the full benefits for all those currently being vaccinated.
As of September 6th, we will see 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% capacity indoors and 75% capacity outdoors.
All restrictions are to be eased from October 22nd which includes the reopening of nightclubs and limits on outdoor events and activities. A vaccination certificate will only be needed when travelling internationally from this date.
An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin (FF) on Tuesday hailed the strategy followed in the Republic of Ireland. “The evidence is clear and incontrovertible – your effort and your sacrifice has saved lives. It has not been a straightforward journey. We have had false dawns and crushing disappointments along the way. The explosion of what was then called the UK variant last Winter and the emergence of the Delta variant earlier this year were particularly challenging. But, we persisted.
“Over the course of 2021, we’ve pursued a twin track strategy of a careful, steady reopening, together with periods of observation and examination after each change. And alongside this, we have pushed forward with one of the most determined and comprehensive vaccination programmes in the world”.
Hope returns to sectors impacted massively by the pandemic, he said. “I’ve never believed that there would be a day when we were just able to announce that the pandemic was ‘over’. This would be entirely the wrong message to send and it would undermine our ability to respond properly to new developments. We are very unlikely to ever be able to be rid of the virus completely. Indeed, we expect to see an increase in case numbers over the coming weeks. But the combined strategy of careful reopening and energetic vaccination has brought us to a point where we can begin to do things differently”. He warned that a difficult winter lies on the horizon for the country’s healthcare services.
- Public Transport: Return to 100% capacity from 1st September
- From 6th September, easing of restrictions on organised indoor and outdoor events / mass gatherings
- From 20th September, easing of restrictions on indoor and outdoor group activities (sports, arts, culture, dance classes etc)
- Attendance at work for specific business requirements may commence on a phased and staggered attendance basis from 20th of September.
From October 22nd onwards, the following restrictions will be lifted:
- Requirements for physical distancing
- Requirements for mask wearing outdoors and in indoor private settings
- Limits on numbers at indoor and outdoor events and activities
- Restrictions on religious or civil ceremonies
- Limits on numbers that can meet in private homes/gardens
- Certification of vaccination, immunity or testing as a prerequisite for access to, or engagement in, any activities or events (with exception of international travel)
- Restrictions on high-risk activities (i.e. nightclubs)
As part of this phase, the Government also agreed to the transitioning of the public health response and governance arrangements out of emergency response mode, the maintenance of a robust ongoing public health response, including a vaccine booster programme and economic measures including the targeting of supports and the return to work places.
Measures that will continue to remain in place include self-isolation when we have symptoms, mask wearing in healthcare settings, indoor retail and on public transport.