AFTER NEARLY TWO years of pandemic restrictions, Ireland took a major step towards returning to normality this evening as the Government announced a plan for rolling back Covid measures.
“Today is a good day,” the Taoiseach told the country this evening as he announced that almost all restrictions will be lifted at 6am tomorrow.
If you’re wondering why this is happening now, check out our latest explainer which tackles that subject.
Here’s what’s changing in the morning:
- Visiting rules will be scrapped and any number of households will be allowed to gather.
- Bars, restaurants and nightclubs will be allowed to operate normal trading times without Covid passes, masks for customers or social distancing.
- This means late night pubs and nightclubs will return. However, culture and tourism minister Catherine Martin clarified that some won’t be able to open late until Wednesday because they need court permission for extended licences.
- Crowd limits will be scrapped on indoor and outdoor events, including sports, concerts etc.
Monday 24 January
- The phased return to the workplace will begin in earnest. At a press conference this evening, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the government would not be proscribing how companies handle the return but the government said it should be appropriate to each sector.
Monday 28 February
- The current measures will remain in place in primary and secondary schools until the end of February. Further guidance will be issued to schools in advance of this date.
- Mask wearing rules are also due to remain in place until the end of February (although they’re no longer required in some settings).
What are the rules around masks?
Mask wearing will still be required in the following settings until 28 February:
- Public transport, taxis and at stations, airports and ports.
- Retail premises (including shopping centres), libraries, cinemas, theatres, museums, post offices, banks, public offices.
- Premises providing specified services and businesses (including salons, hairdressers, travel agents, laundries, dry cleaners and bookmakers)
- For staff in hospitality.
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What’s not changing?
- There are no changes to the current measures regarding international travel.
- Advice for those with symptoms, positive cases and close contacts is staying in place.
What’s happening with business supports?
- The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will close for new applications from tomorrow.
- Those on the PUP will move to a weekly rate of €208 from 8 March. After that, remaining PUP recipients will start transitioning to standard jobseeker terms.
- The reduction in the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) has been delayed by a month until 1 March for businesses that were directly impacted by the restrictions introduced in December.
- A restart payment of one week’s support will be paid to Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) recipients.
- The tax debt warehousing scheme to provide liquidity support to businesses will be extended by a month until the end of April.
- Enhanced illness benefits will be extended until the end of June 2022.