Covid-19 restrictions: What you still can’t do this weekend
Be aware, the next wave of reopening does not come into effect until Monday
A resident in Cork protesting last weekend against house parties in the area. Photograph: Catherine Clancy
The Government has announced further relaxations to the Covid-19 lockdown from next week. Some measures accelerated from later phases but, hold fast, there are lots of things you cannot do this weekend.
Until Monday, the State remains in the first phase of relaxations so there are still sweeping restrictions many of which will remain in place even during the second phase.
What can I do this weekend?
Not a whole lot if going out to the cinema, the theatre, the pub, a restaurant or a nightclub is your thing. All these venues are still closed and will remain closed for several weeks yet.
Okay, but what about house parties?
These are still a big no. On Thursday, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan criticised people organising and attending house parties saying that they were “being organised with abandon, it seems to me, as though we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic”.
Why so much caution around house parties?
Because the combination of being close to others in an indoor setting, where the risk of the coronavirus disease spreading is higher, and alcohol being consumed means that adhering to the two metre social distancing rule is likely to slip.
But aren’t you allowed to meet others who you don’t live with?
Yes, you can meet others but under strict conditions. Under the first phase of lockdown restrictions being eased, which came into effect on May 18th, up to four people who are not from the same household can meet but only outdoors and if they observe the strict physical distancing by remaining two metres from one another.
Can I at least go shopping this weekend?
You can, but you may not be able to shop where you want. There are still only a limited number of shops and other retailers open at the moment - supermarkets, large garden centres and hardware stores, and farmers’ markets - and if you go you are advised to wear a face covering and to adhere to the two metre distance from others to protect yourself and others.
But isn’t the virus being suppressed? Why the continuing need for all these measures?
Yes, the virus is being suppressed; the number of new infections, hospitalisations and admissions to hospital intensive care units have all fallen since peaking in April but there is still a risk of a second wave so the public is being advised to observe restrictions to stop this happening. The State’s Covid-19 response is in the “stay at home” phase and people are still being encouraged to not make any unnecessary journeys, and to only venture out for exercise or essential reasons.
So how far can I travel this weekend?
Until the next phase of relaxations, people are still being told that they cannot travel further than 5km from their home. You can travel to a park or a beach, or indeed play golf or tennis this weekend but the park, beach, course or club has to be within that 5km limit. This will change on Monday when people will be allowed to travel anywhere within their own county or up to 20km from their home, whichever is the larger distance.
Can I go on a date and perhaps get intimate with someone?
On the first part of this question, yes - so long as you stay two metres away from the other person if they live outside your household. On the second part, Dr Holohan said this week that people should limit themselves to a single sexual partner while Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are in place.
Asked about the advice of Dutch officials find a single “steady” sex partner, he called this “good public health advice” not just in relation to coronavirus but from sexually transmitted infections generally. He added, however, the National Public Health Emergency Team’s view on “intimate contact” and “close contact” between who live in different houses was “not part of our guidance and advice at the moment”.