Two-metre rule, summer camps and golf considered by Ministers

Public urged to ‘hold firm’ until June 8th when second phase of reopening kicks in

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan says the current two-metre social distancing guideline is the "right measure for now", but will be kept under review. Video: RTÉ

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The State’s chief medical officer Tony Holohan has rejected pressure from some Government Ministers to accelerate the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Holohan told a Cabinet meeting there will be no immediate change to his advice on the current two-metre rule for physical distancing.

Despite calls from some Ministers to reduce the recommended distance to one metre, Mr Holohan said it could lead to an increased risk of infection.

Under the current roadmap, people will be permitted to extend their orbit of travel to 20km from June 8th when the second phase of the plan to reopen Ireland is scheduled to kick in.

Sources said Minister of State in the Department of Health Finian McGrath also raised the possibility of increasing the travel limit from 5km to 20km at an earlier stage. It is understood that Mr McGrath said it was unfair that only golfers who were within 5km of their local course could play the sport and he highlighted the impact that restrictions were having on people’s mental health.

Government sources have expressed confidence that there may be some easing of restrictions on June 8th beyond what was originally envisaged.

Summer camps

While some additional elements may be included on top of what was initially intended – such as easing nursing home visitor restrictions, help for children with special needs and potentially allowing some summer camps where social distancing could be maintained, such as tennis camps, to proceed – they are expected to be minimal.

The 20km travel limit was due to apply until July 20th, when people would then be allowed travel outside their region. This was initially to be done in tandem with the reopening of hotels, hostels and caravan parks on that date. However, this may be brought forward to June 29th to boost the domestic tourism industry, according to well-placed sources.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Wednesday called on the public to “hold firm” until the first week of June. “If the numbers are still going in the right direction at that point, we can have some confidence about bringing forward some of the things from later phases,” he said.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said Ministers had a “productive meeting” with Dr Holohan.

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