Intercounty travel? Barbecues? Pints? What you can and can’t do this bank holiday weekend

Ten things you might be planning for the weekend and whether they are allowed

Can I travel outside my county this weekend?

Travel within counties has been allowed since April 12th, as has travelling as far as 20km from your home. So, for example, if you live in Shankill, Co Dublin, you can travel to Greystones, Co Wicklow, which is 15km by road. Or, if you live in Kinvara, Co Galway, you can travel to the Flaggy Shore at Newquay, in Co Clare, which is 11km by road. Many people have been taking a more flexible approach to the 20km rule, but the wider ban on intercounty travel (which many rural TDs have said is unworkable) will be lifted on May 10th.

Can I have a barbecue in my front garden – with just me and my next-door neighbour?

Officially no, because family and friends are still not allowed to meet in private gardens because of the concern that this will result in people subsequently moving indoors, where the risk of spreading Covid-19 is much higher. But there is nothing to stop each of you eating in your own front gardens and chatting across the boundary. This social connection between neighbours has preserved the sanity of many throughout the pandemic. From May 10th, people from three households will be allowed to meet in private gardens.

Drinks in the park with a few pals?

Like it or not, drinking alcohol in public parks has been one of the features of this pandemic, and the Garda has regularly moved on larger groups who gather outdoors precisely because they aren’t allowed to meet indoors. Currently, a total of six people from two households are allowed to meet up outdoors, but from May 10th this is expected to increase to three households with larger numbers. So, if your group is made up of no more than six people who live in no more than two homes, you can meet in the park.

What about a game of football or a round of golf?

Yes, you can meet up to play a game of football or a round of golf. The restrictions on outdoor sports facilities, including pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, were lifted on April 26th. Clubhouses, changing rooms and showers aren’t allowed to be opened yet, but toilets are.


Can I visit castle grounds or an open farm?

Yes, outdoor visitor attractions, including zoos, pet farms and heritage sites, were opened across Ireland from April 26th. Remember that this weekend you still have to keep within your county or within 20km of your home, and expect long queues for some visitor attractions. Search Heritage Ireland's website for an up-to-date list of State-run sites that are open now. Museums, galleries and libraries are due to reopen from May 10th.

Can I go to the gym or my local swimming pool?

Unfortunately, no. The lack of social distancing in gyms and changing rooms makes these settings high-risk indoor environments for the spread of coronavirus, so gyms and swimming pools will reopen only from June 7th, when it is expected that most people at high risk of severe Covid-19 (the disease that coronavirus causes) will have been vaccinated.

A dip in the sea?

Sea swimming has grown in popularity during the pandemic. You can go for a dip in the sea if you live in a coastal county or within 20km of the sea. The weather doesn’t look especially promising for the weekend, however, so check local conditions before you venture out and never swim alone.

Can I invite my hairdresser around for a trim?

No. Although there have been rumours of hairdressers visiting people’s homes to do “emergency” haircuts, this is still not permitted under the current guidelines. In fact, you still shouldn’t have anyone from outside your household in your home unless you are in a social bubble with that person.

Can I ask my vaccinated aunt to my house for dinner?

The “vaccination bonus” allows fully vaccinated people to visit indoors with one other household that has also been fully vaccinated. But, from May 10th, unvaccinated members of one household will be able to meet a vaccinated person indoors. So maybe hold off on that dinner invitation for another week if you haven’t had your Covid-19 vaccination yet.

Can I hang around outside my local, swilling takeaway pints?

Takeaway pints have been another feature of the pandemic. Some bars serving takeaway pints have been shut down by the Garda when large crowds not observing social distancing gathered outside. But others have managed to keep business going right through lockdown, so it depends on where you live. One thing those who enjoy a drink in their local pub will be pleased to hear is that the rule requiring people to buy food as well as drink will be rescinded when outdoor hospitality reopens in early June.