The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, has today (Friday) confirmed that Ireland can move to Phase 2 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business from Monday June 8th. The Government has also announced an acceleration of the Roadmap, which has been made possible thanks to the progress made by the Irish people in suppressing the virus, meaning certain sectors and public amenities can open earlier than previously planned. All retail stores can open from this Monday, and it is planned that the domestic tourism sector and some hospitality operators can resume from June 29th.
The acceleration of the Roadmap has been made possible thanks to the high level of compliance with social distancing and hygiene measures, and it’s vital that this continues to ensure that further progress can be made. The advice remains still to Stay Local and also to continue working from home if possible.
Speaking today the Taoiseach said:
Today, I can confirm that it is safe to move to Phase 2 of the plan to reopen our country from Monday. This has been made possible by the considerable sacrifices you have made to restrict the spread of the virus and protect each other.
Thanks to your perseverance in pushing back COVID-19 I am announcing an acceleration of the Roadmap. Over the last few months fear has exerted a kind of gravity pulling us down, but now we find there is hope lifting us up again.
During this Emergency we have suffered as a country, lost loved ones, and changed the way we work and live. We are making progress. We are heading in the right direction. And we have earned the right to be hopeful about the future.
Based on the medical evidence, the recommendations of National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and Government reports on the economic and social impact of Covid-19, Cabinet today agreed to implement all elements of Phase 2 and to bring forward the actions in the remaining phases. As we move into Phase 2, it is important that we continue to limit travel and people are being urged to Stay Local.
Under the reconfiguration of the Roadmap, there are now just two remaining phases instead of three, with Phase 3 starting on the 29th of June, and Phase 4 on the 20th of July. Further work will be carried out in the coming days and weeks to determine which actions will take place in each phase. Some measures such as bans on mass gatherings may need to remain in place well into August as will public health advice around hygiene and physical distancing.
It is vital as we accelerate the Roadmap, that we all continue to stick to the basic hygiene and social distancing measures that have become a part of our daily lives; washing our hands regularly, keeping 2 metres apart, observing coughing etiquette and avoiding crowded places.
Under Phase 2, from Monday June 8th, the following changes will come into effect:
- You can travel within your own county, or up to 20 km from your home, whichever is greater. These travel limits will be lifted from the end of June.
- Groups of up to 6 people will be able to interact with each other indoors or outdoors, once they keep at least 2m apart. Groups of up to 15 will be able to meet for outdoor sporting activities.
- For those who are over 70 or medically vulnerable, it will be possible to welcome a small number of visitors into your home, with physical distancing observed.
- Shops will also provide dedicated hours for those who are over 70 or in an at risk group.
- All retail stores can reopen, but opening times will be staggered to relieve pressure on public transport. You are encouraged to shop locally, shop safely and support businesses in your community.
- Up to 25 people will be allowed to attend funerals of loved ones.
- Public libraries will commence re-opening.
- Playgrounds can reopen from Monday, and outdoor camps for children can also be run, once there are no more than 15 people involved.
- Certain types of elite sports training will also be possible.
- More people will be able to return to work, including all those who work on their own or whose work can be done safely while staying 2m apart from others. Working from home should remain the norm for those who can do so.
- Marts can re-open and greyhound racing can resume without spectators.
A new Summer Education Programme for children with special educational needs and disadvantage, will also commence, as the indications are that it is now safe to do so. The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe Mc Hugh, will bring proposals in this regard to Government next week. The focus of the programme will be on students and young people with complex needs – including those who live with significant behavioural, social, emotional and sensory difficulties. Children with Down Syndrome will be included as part of our plans for this summer.
Shopping centres can re-open on June 15th provided only shops open and measures are taken to ensure people do not congregate at benches, fountains or food courts.
It is hoped that in three weeks’ time we will be able to move to a more advanced Phase 3, which would include the reopening of domestic tourism in our country, and bring forward the opening of hotels, restaurants, bars that also operate as restaurants, hostels, caravan parks, galleries and museums to the 29th of June. It is anticipated that places of worship will also be able to reopen from this point.
Social distancing measures will mean that capacity on public transport will remain very restricted, so people are encouraged to only use public transport for essential journeys, and wearing a face covering is recommended when doing so.