COVID-19: Irish lockdown to be eased from mid-April with two fully vaccinated people allowed to meet indoors | UK News


The Irish government has announced some easing to strict lockdown restrictions from mid-April, including allowing two fully vaccinated people to meet indoors.

Speaking in Dublin, the prime minister Micheal Martin said the coronavirus was “a different beast” from the one that Ireland faced during the first lockdown last year, due to the B.117 variant, also known as the UK or Kent variant.

“By being safe now”, he said, “we will enjoy much more freedom later in the summer”.

Under the new plan, from 12 April Irish people will be able to travel anywhere within their own county. This replaces the current 5km travel restriction rule.

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Empty streets in Dublin city centre during the coronavirus pandemic

Outdoor meetings of two households will be allowed, and two fully vaccinated people (who have had both doses) will be able to meet indoors.

Later in April, the resumption of some sporting activities will be permitted, such as tennis and golf, as well as children’s sports training.

At the same time, the construction sector will be boosted by a partial reopening, paving the way for the return to work of nearly 15,000 construction workers.

A man dressed as St Patrick walks down O...Connell street  in Dublin, Ireland, Wednesday, March, 17, 2021. St Patrick...s Day celebrations have been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the covid-19 crisis.   (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
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Restrictions meant a socially-distanced St Patrick’s Day for a second year running. Pic: AP

Ireland’s vaccination programme is also being changed to an age-based system once the over-70s and vulnerable cohorts are fully immunised.

This will see people vaccinated in 10-year age groups, regardless of occupational status.

Like all EU countries, Ireland’s vaccination rollout has suffered from a comparative supply issue compared to the UK.

But, the country is pursuing a two-dose strategy and while it is behind the UK in first-dose numbers, it has a comparable fully vaccinated rate.

“The very good news,” said Mr Martin, “is that supply is set to dramatically increase in April, May and June”.

He said he hoped Ireland would have administered around six million doses by the end of July.

Looking further ahead, after a review at the start of May, the reopening of personal services like salons and hairdressers is being planned for some time in that month, along with the return of click-and-collect retail and all non-contact sports training.

The Irish government also hopes to reopen hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses in June.

Ireland’s infection rates remain stubbornly high despite the tight lockdown in place since the end of December, which authorities mostly attribute to the prevalence of the new coronavirus variants.

Monday’s announcement had been flagged as a relatively minor tweaking of the rules, at least for the month of April, while offering the public some extra freedom of movement.



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