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Government approves moving to Phase 1 of easing Covid 19 restrictions

The Government has today (Friday) announced that we are on course to move to Phase 1 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business from Monday May 18th. This is in line with advice received from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Speaking at the announcement, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar said:

I can confirm that it is safe to proceed with Phase 1 of our plan to ease the COVID-19 restrictions on Monday. This gives us reason to hope, but it is not a cause for celebration.  We have a long way to go yet. There will be bumps in the road and we have to keep our guard up.

From Monday, under Phase 1, you are advised to Stay at Home, and avoid unnecessary journeys, except for the following 5 reasons:

1.       To go to work, if your place of work is open and you cannot work from home

2.       To shop for items you need

3.       To exercise within 5km of your home

4.       For medical reasons or to care for others

5.       To meet friends or family outside, within 5km of your home, in groups of no more than 4

Older people and those who are cocooning should continue to stay at home, except for brief outdoor exercise within 5km of their home.

The Roadmap, which was published two weeks ago, sets out five stages for unlocking the restrictions put in place to contain the Coronavirus, at three week intervals. As we ease restrictions, the rate of the virus in the community will be constantly monitored by the National Public Health Emergency Team and the Government.

The Government is urging everyone to remember the importance of adhering to basic hygiene measures to stop the spread of Covid 19. These are to

1. wash your hands regularly;
2. maintain a 2 metre distance from others where possible;
3. cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue;
4. to stay at home and self-isolate if you are sick.

These measures are more important than ever as we gradually lift restrictions.

As part of the gradual easing of restrictions in Phase 1, members of the public are being advised to use a face covering (i.e. a non-medical face covering) as an additional hygiene measure, when using busy public transport or when in enclosed indoor public areas such as retail outlets.

An Taoiseach said:

As a country we have done a lot to suppress the spread of this virus. But extreme vigilance will be required until a vaccine, effective treatment or prophylaxis is found, and that might be some time away. The only thing that is inevitable is the spread of the virus unless we push it back every day. Coronavirus is a ‘fire in retreat’ but it is not defeated. We must extinguish every spark, quench every ember.

As part of the Government’s plan to gradually reopen our economy and society, the following changes will come into effect from Monday, where social distancing can be maintained:

·       Construction workers, gardeners and other outdoor workers can return to work

·       The following list of retailers can open: hardware stores, builders merchants and those providing essential supplies and tools for gardening, farming and agriculture; garden centres and farmers markets; Opticians/Optometrists/Outlets providing hearing test services, selling hearing aids and appliances; retailers involved in the sale, supply and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles and related facilities (e.g. tyre sales and repairs); office products and services; electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home. This does not include homeware stores.

·       Outdoor public amenities and tourism sites, such as carparks, beaches and mountain walks may reopen

·       Outdoor public sports amenities, like playing pitches, tennis courts and golf courses may reopen

·       Outdoor sports and fitness activities in groups of no more than four are permitted within 5km of your home and providing there is no physical contact

·       School and college buildings may reopen for teachers and lecturers to facilitate remote learning


Only stores providing homeware incidental to primary retail functions set out in the original Essential Services list are to reopen in Phase 1. It is not intended that stores which might also classify themselves as homeware, but primarily sell items such as furniture, bedding, curtains, kitchenware, crockery or other such items etc. should open. 

During Phase 1, it is intended that customers should restrict visits to such stores for essential supplies. All retailers are encouraged to continue to provide on-line services where that is possible and appropriate to minimise footfall. All of these outlets must implement physical distancing measures and measures set out in the Return to Work Safely Protocol.

The Return to Work Safely Protocol is the operative guide for employees and employers as sectors of our economy reopen

In reaching its decision, the Government also considered the social and economic implications of the Covid 19 restrictions, and was briefed by the Minister for Health on the latest data regarding the progression of Covid 19 in the community and the capacity of our health service.

Note to Editors:

You can view a full list of businesses permitted to open in Phase 1 on