Reopening Ireland Q&A: When will it begin? What will open? Can I meet with friends?

Phase one of Government’s roadmap to reopen society is scheduled to begin on Monday

An empty Mary Street in Dublin city centre. The Government’s five phase plan for reopening the country begins on Monday May 18th. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

An empty Mary Street in Dublin city centre. The Government’s five phase plan for reopening the country begins on Monday May 18th. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins


What is happening on May 18th?

From Monday, phase one of the Government’s roadmap for reopening society and business is scheduled to come into effect.

However, this timeline is dependent on medical advice from the National Public Health and Emergency Team (Nphet), who are meeting again on Friday.

Can I see people outside of my household?

In phase one of the roadmap, people are still being encouraged to stay at home as much as possible. However, up to four people who don’t live in the same household will be allowed to meet up outdoors, as long as they maintain a 2 metres distance.

People who are over 70 or who are medically vulnerable are continued to be advised to cocoon in their homes.

What can reopen?

Shops that are primarily outdoor such as garden centres, hardware stores and farmers’ markets can reopen so long as social distancing measures can be put in place.

Shops that were previously allowed to remain open in earlier stages of coronavirus restrictions will be allowed to reopen. These include homeware stores, opticians, motor and bicycle repair shops, office products, electrical, IT, and phone sales and repair businesses.

What about sport and exercise?

Public sport facilities such as pitches, tennis courts and golf courses can open where social distancing can be maintained. However, contact sports such as football or GAA are not allowed to reopen.

People can exercise in groups of no more than four people where social distancing can be maintained and where there is no contact with other people.

Who can go back to work?

Remote working is still to continue for workers and businesses who are currently working from home.

There will be a phased return of outdoor workers. This includes construction workers, gardeners, including people working on allotments. Social distancing requirements continue to apply.

Will the delivery of health and social care change?

There will be an increase in the delivery of non-Covid-19 care and services alongside Covid-19 care, the government has said.

Care and services will be continued to be delivered in new ways such as through telephone, online, virtual clinic, and new models of care to meet demand and to alleviate concerns of patients, service users and healthcare workers.

Will I have to wear a face mask when I leave the house?

Nphet are meeting on Tuesday to discuss its advice on the wearing of face masks by the general public. They will issue advice on the matter prior to May 18th.

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan has said he does not envisage a stance which would make the wearing of face masks compulsory, but that the team does acknowledge the role non-medical-grade masks can play in restarting a society.

Will childcare or education resume?

Childcare workers will provide care for the children of essential healthcare workers in the healthcare worker’s home, but normal childcare facilities will not resume work in this phase.

Schools and universities will not reopen for education purposes, but the buildings will reopen for access by teachers for remote teaching purposes.

When will further restrictions be lifted?

Phase two of the five-step plan is set to begin on June 8th, however that is also dependent on public health advice.

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