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Restrictions extended & exercise radius increased

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*A masked Garda in Kilorglin. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Current restrictions in Ireland have been extended for two weeks with two exceptions while the further restrictions are to be eased on a phased basis.

  • Over 70s cocooning can walk or drive 5km from their home provided they don’t make contact with anybody else while doing so. Effective from Tuesday May 5th.
  • Members of the public who had been limited to exercising within 2km of their home, can now exercise up to 5km from their home. This is effective from Tuesday May 5th.
  • Restrictions will be relaxed on a phased basis. This Government roadmap will ease restrictions on May 18th, June 8th, June 29th, July 20th and August 10th.
  • Outdoor workers can return to work on May 18th. This includes construction workers, landscapers, repair shops, hardware stores and garden centres.
  • Some non-contact sporting activities can resume in small groups from May 18th.
  • Schools and colleges to reopen in September.

Following a two and a half hour Cabinet meeting on Friday, a decision was reached on the next stage regarding COVID-19 restrictions.

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar (FG) delivered a state of the nation address on Friday evening but refused to take questions from the media subsequent to his speech. “As a nation our physical health has been attacked, our mental health eroded and our economy battered”.

He stated that the current amount of deaths and cases in the country is too many. The relaxing of restrictions too soon could result in overcrowded ICUs and an overwhelmed health system, “everything we have achieved would be lost”.

From May 18th, restrictions will be eased in a phased basis.

On the 8th of June, cocooners may be advised that they can shop again and larger funerals are expected to be allowed. At this time people will be allowed to meet with four others who are not from their own family, indoor or outdoors. Marts are also expected to reopen.

Reopening of playgrounds, cafes and restaurants has been earmarked for June 29th. Three weeks later, July 20th it is believed that it will be the turn of hairdressers and swimming pools to return.

On August 10th, cinemas, theatres and cultural centres are tipped to return. A latter phase is anticipated to include crèches, this will be in late July or August.

As of Tuesday, the distance members of the public can travel from their home when carrying out exercise will increase from 2km to 5km.

Individuals currently cocooning will be allowed to walk or drive 5km from their home beginning on Tuesday May 5th. Contact with others is to be avoided by the over 70s when doing this.

Varadkar stated that the plan is to reopen the country in a slow stage phased basis. There will be five phases with three week intervals between them. “The risk of a second wave of the virus is ever present”, he said. Each phases will be assessed to monitor if it leads to a surge in the amount of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“Ireland begins to reopen on the 18th of May,” the Taoiseach commented. On this date, those employed in construction and landscaping will return to work. Some outdoor sporting and fitness activities will also be allowed from this date.

Later phases will include the reopening of pubs, bars and cinemas. Schools and colleges will commence the new academic year in September.

A cabinet meeting is to be held on Saturday morning which is designed to focus on adding further supports to aid businesses in restarting post COVID-19. “Businesses will need help to get going,” Varadkar admitted. A national protocol to assist businesses is to be developed. “We will do everything possible to get enterprises back and running”.

Phase 1 (18th May)

• Allow outdoor meetings between people from different households

• Open up childcare for healthcare workers

• Phased return of outdoor workers

• Open retailers which are primarily outdoor or those which were open during first level of restriction (e.g. opticians)

• Opening of certain outdoor public amenities

Phase 2

• Allow visits to households

• Develop plans and supports to open up business with consideration for safety of staff and customers

• Open small retail outlets and marts where social distancing can be observed

• Open public libraries

Phase 3

• Allow small social gatherings

• Opening of crèches, childminders and pre-schools for children of essential workers in phased manner

• Return to work for those with low levels of interaction

• Open non-essential retail outlets with street level entrance and exit

• Open playgrounds

Phase 4

• Opening of crèches, childminders and pre-schools for children of all other workers on a gradually increasing basis

• Return to work for those who cannot work from home

• Gradual easing of restrictions for higher risk services (e.g. Hairdressers)

• Opening of museums, galleries, places of worship

Phase 5

• Allow larger social gatherings

• Return to work across all sectors

• On a phased basis, commencing at the beginning of the academic year 2020/2021, opening of primary and secondary schools and 3rd level institutions

• Further easing of restrictions on high risk retail services

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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