Explainer: What are the reopening plans and key dates for exiting lockdown?

May will see intercounty travel ban lifted while hairdressers and retail will reopen

The Government has formally approved a plan for the reopening of large swathes of society and economy across May, June and, to a lesser extent, July. Here is your guide to what will reopen throughout the coming months if the vital Covid-19 statistics remain stable.

May 4th: all remaining construction returns

May 10th: intercounty travel ban lifted, hairdressers reopen as well as galleries and museums

This is the first big date in the reopening plan and the focus is very much on the outdoors. The intercounty travel ban will be lifted. People can return to the hairdressers and other personal services provided they have booked an appointment.

Households can meet outdoors with a maximum of three households or six people. Limits on the size of outdoor meet-ups will not count children under 12. Grandparents who have been vaccinated will also be able to meet indoors with grandchildren. This is because the Cabinet agreed that fully vaccinated people can meet indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household provided they are not at risk of severe illness.

Fully vaccinated people can also meet indoors with other fully vaccinated people as long as there are no more than three households present.


Also from May 10th, the phased resumption of non-essential retail will begin, starting with click and collect.

In-person religious services will resume but no communions or confirmations should take place. For funerals and weddings, up to 50 mourners or guests are permitted at a service. For funerals, no related events should happen before or after.

For weddings, however, the limit will stay at six people at the reception inside, or 15 outside, and this will rise to 25 people indoors in June.

Cultural institutions such as museums, galleries and libraries will reopen. Capacity on public transport will increase to 50 per cent of normal loads. Outdoor training will resume for adults in pods of maximum 15 people. Organised outdoor gatherings can also take place with a maximum attendance of 15 people.

May 17th - the remaining shops:

The rest of non-essential retail is set to return on this date including many shops which have been closed for months now.

June 2nd - hotels and hostels :

Domestic tourism will kick off again just before the June bank holiday weekend as hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels and guesthouses are due to reopen on this date. Indoor dining will be allowed for residents only. Leisure facilities will also be restricted to guests.

June 7th - outdoor restaurants and bars, gyms, pools and more at weddings:

Outdoor services will return for restaurants and bars. No distinction will be drawn between pubs that serve food and pubs that do not, so all pubs that have outdoor facilities can reopen, some for the first time in more than 400 days. The €9 substantial meal rule will be scrapped. Gyms and swimming pools will reopen. Outdoor sports matches will resume but no crowds will be allowed.

The number of guests attending a wedding reception will increase to 25. Indoor visits in private households will resume with one other household permitted to attend. Furthermore, the Government said it is preparing for the safe return of cinemas and theatres some time in June subject to public health advice.

July - indoor hospitality, casinos and travel

Indoor dining may resume some time in July, but no date has been set. The Government has said that once it reaches a critical mass of vaccinations, it will give consideration to resuming indoor hospitality in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and casinos. The Government will also give consideration to indoor matches and exercise classes, mass gatherings and international travel.

The Vaccine Dividend:

Those who have been vaccinated will be among a select group permitted to meet indoors in groups of three households from May 10th. The timing of this will likely depend on which vaccine was received. Those who have received both doses of Pfizer can meet indoors around one week after their second dose. This will be two weeks for those who have received both shots of their Moderna vaccine. For those who have received Johnson & Johnson, they can meet two weeks after receiving their single shot. For those who have received AstraZeneca they can meet four weeks after their first dose which is a major boost for that group given what can be a wide gap between the first and second dose.

The Government will open the online portal for vaccine registration for those over 50 from next week. Some 1.5m doses will have been administered by last night.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times