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'New normal' Almost all Covid restrictions including vaccine certs to be lifted on October 22

Workers will be able to return to the office on a phased basis from September 20, despite earlier indications that it would be a week earlier.

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Minister for Arts and Culture Catherine Martin TD, during a Covid 19 Cabinet Comittee meeting at Government Buildings,Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Arts and Culture Catherine Martin TD, during a Covid 19 Cabinet Comittee meeting at Government Buildings,Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Arts and Culture Catherine Martin TD, during a Covid 19 Cabinet Comittee meeting at Government Buildings,Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

The vast majority of Covid-19 restrictions will finally be lifted on October 22 as the country makes its way out of the final lockdown.

The wearing of face masks in certain settings will be one of the few pandemic measures to remain past October.

The Irish Independent understands that the use of Covid passes for domestic use will also come to an end on
October 22.

Next Monday will see increased numbers allowed for indoor and outdoor events for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the return of live music at weddings, communions, confirmations and trade exhibitions.

The numbers of spectators at sporting events next month is also expected to be increased up to 50pc of a stadium’s capacity.

Crunch talks took place in Government Buildings for more than four hours last night where senior ministers decided to lift restrictions on two key dates, September 6 and 20.

Workers will be able to return to the office on a phased basis from September 20, despite earlier indications that it would be a week earlier.

Bowling and indoor sports, as well as dance, drama and music classes for children will resume on September 20. Bingo halls will also reopen.

A nightclub pilot scheme will also take place before the end of September, with a date yet to be determined. Organisers will engage with officials in London and Denmark, where clubs have already reopened.

A senior source said that the reopening of nightclubs will have to be “carefully handled” and it is believed that the pilot will return towards the end of October.

The plans going to Cabinet today also state that the rest of the restrictions will be removed from mid-October to October 22.

October 22 will see the final lifting of restrictions apart from guidance around the wearing of masks.

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It is expected that masks will remain for indoor retail, public transport and in healthcare settings.

October 22 will also likely see the lapsing of emergency regulations, such as on indoor socialising and the use of Covid passes for hospitality.

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be able to have house parties from this date.

A high-level source said this date will see the Government moving to a “model of personal responsibility” as opposed to strict restrictions.

However the dates for reopening come with a “caveat” that the epidemiological situation remains “manageable”, a source said, and that the target of having 90pc of adults fully vaccinated is reached.

Ministers will also keep a close eye on the impact that the reopening of schools has on the spread of the virus.

A full Cabinet meeting today will sign off on the “comprehensive” plan to ease all remaining restrictions.

Full capacity on public transport is set to resume tomorrow. “I would be confident that from next week we can start making progress in practical terms in unwinding some of the restrictions that are there and that will be done over a number of weeks into October,” said Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath.

He said there will be a “move away” from the strict rules seen in the previous three lockdowns and people will have to use their own sense of responsibility.

“I think what you will see is a move away in a gradual sense from a rules and regulations based system, one that does place an emphasis on personal responsibility and on living alongside this virus.”

Mr McGrath said income supports, such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme, will be in place for “quite some time”.

“We will also see what we can do in terms of certain indoor activities which have been shut down for so long now.

“A lot of children who don’t play field sports have missed out on dance classes, gymnastics and other activities indoor, we would like to see them get back as early as possible,” he said.

Minister Eamon Ryan also indicated that the 11.30pm closing time for pubs and restaurants may be scrapped with a “staggered” closing time.

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