Covid restrictions: What changes will come in from Friday?

Nightclubs to reopen, limits on capacity at matches and weddings lifted, hotel quarantine to end

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said under the plan, normal trading hours in pubs, restaurants and wider hospitality will resume, and nightclubs are set to reopen with some restrictions – for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Video: RTE

 

A revised reopening plan has been announced by the Government which will see the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions on the night-time economy from Friday, October 22nd. Measures around testing of close contacts and international travel have also been altered. So what will change, and how will it work?

What is opening from Friday?

The remaining aspects of the hospitality, entertainment and night-time economy sector are permitted to reopen from Friday, albeit “only with the full range of protective measures in place,” the Government has announced.

Stadiums can allow full capacity for sporting events, restrictions on the number of attendees at weddings will be lifted, as well as capacity limits on religious ceremonies.

Pubs can return to their normal later trading hours and nightclubs can also reopen on Friday after 18 months of remaining closed.

What safety measures will remain in place?

Under the new plan, “wide and robust implementation of the EU Digital Covid Certificate (Covid-19 pass)” will be required for indoor hospitality and events.

Social distancing, collection of contact tracing data and face masks will also be required. Face masks can be removed for the consumption of food or drinks (or dancing in nightclubs).

Hospitality settings can provide table service only, for a maximum of 10 adults per table, and a maximum of 15 per table when including children.

How will live entertainment and sporting events work?

For indoor live music, drama, live entertainment and sporting events, the audience should be fully seated, the Government has said.

Standing will be permitted at your seat.

Where indoor groups have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, pods of six should apply. Fixed capacity limits will not apply to these indoor and outdoor group activities.

Can people dance at nightclubs?

Dancing will be permitted at nightclubs.

Specific guidance, separate to those of bars, late bars, and restaurants, will be developed for nightclubs setting out appropriate protective measures.

These will include the use of Covid-19 passes, contact tracing and face masks, however, face masks can be removed when dancing, eating and drinking, the Government said.

What has changed for outdoor events?

Fixed capacity limits will no longer apply for outdoor events. Covid-19 passes will also not be needed.

However, organisers of both indoor and outdoor group activities should ensure that “appropriate protective measures are in place”.

What about the return to workplaces?

The full return to offices is being delayed until next spring in response to rising Covid-19 cases, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

Employers should facilitate people working from home, he said, adding that if there are people who really wanted to return to the office, that should be facilitated too “if they can be in an office on their own or socially distanced from other people”.

Otherwise, the return to workplaces will continue on a “phased and cautious basis” for “specific business requirements” only.

What’s this about antigen testing?

The Government has agreed to an enhanced role for rapid antigen through being used to test close contacts and groups attending large events. The testing of fully vaccinated, asymptomatic people who are close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, which ceased for those without symptoms in September, is to be resumed, the Tánaiste said on Tuesday.

However, instead of being tested with the standard PCR test as before, close contacts will be sent an antigen test. Any positive result will be confirmed with a follow-up PCR test. Any close contact who is not vaccinated, or who has symptoms, will have to take a PCR test, as at present.

Any changes in terms of international travel?

The requirements for proof of vaccination, immunity or a negative PCR test will remain in place for international travellers. People will also still be required to fill out a passenger locator form. However, the Government said the mandatory hotel quarantine system for arrivals from certain countries was no longer considered necessary and would be wound down. Mandatory home quarantine requirements will also be removed.

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