Friday, May 01, 2020

By Steve Neville

Leo Varadkar on his way to address the nation. Picture: PA

The Government has published a “roadmap to ease restrictions”.

It comes following the Taoiseach’s announcement that the country will begin to reopen from May 18.

The Covid-19 restrictions will remain in place until that date.

However, Leo Varadkar has announced that the 2km exercise restriction will be extended to 5km from May 5.

Mr Varadkar also announced that people over 70 who are cocooning will be allowed to go out, from May 5.

However, they are encouraged to continue cocooning.

After “two more weeks of tight restrictions” the country will begin to reopen in five three-week phases.

The Government said they want to reopen the country in a “slow phased way”.

A statement said: “Each phase consists of a menu of options” that will be considered by the Government “as it gradually opens up economic and social activities.”

Examples of the types of actions which will be considered under the various phases include:

Phase 1 (May 18)

  • 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 (June 8)

    • 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 (June 29)

      • 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 (July 20)

        • 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 (August 10)

          • 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
          • The Government said that the roadmap “also sets out a framework for future decision making, which will at all times be underpinned by public health advice”.

            They “will regularly assess the following criteria as we seek to keep the level of transmission low” while the economy gradually restarts:

            • The latest data regarding the progression of the disease
            • The capacity of the health service
            • The capacity of the testing and tracing system
            • The measures in place to protect vulnerable groups
            • An assessment of the impact of excess morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.
            • The Cabinet is due to meet tomorrow “to agree a further package of measures to help our businesses to restart, reconnect and rehire staff who have been laid off or furloughed.”

              A Government statement said that: “The risk of a second wave of the virus is ever present. 

              “As a country, we can only move from one phase to the next if the virus stays under control between each phase.

              “There will be a long-term need for physical distancing, for good hand hygiene, for respiratory hygiene, regular cleaning and for people to stay at home and isolate if they are sick.

               

              “However, the Government is very conscious that there are significant consequences of social distancing measures.

              “The normal structures of daily life – work, school, sport, entertainment – have temporarily ceased to exist and even as we re-open society, we will be living our daily lives in modified ways for as long as we live with this pandemic.”

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