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corona escape Everything you need to know about Ireland’s summer on the road out of lockdown

Key dates on horizon for pubs, restaurants, retailers and sports

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Outdoor dining in Cork last summer. Photo: Visit Cork

Outdoor dining in Cork last summer. Photo: Visit Cork

Outdoor dining in Cork last summer. Photo: Visit Cork

After months of strict restrictions and closed shops, finally the country can look forward to a summer on the road out of lockdown.

While the easing of restrictions will be “phased and cautious”, with a close eye being kept on cases, hospitalisations, ICU numbers and the vaccine rollout, the country is finally properly reopening.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressed the nation and laid out a plan for what this summer will look like - and promised that once businesses reopen, they will not have to close again.

Here are the most important questions answered:

When are the hairdressers opening?

Hairdressers, barbers, including personal services - such as beauticians and nail salons, will open on May 10.

They will be only open by appointment and not walk-in.

When will the pubs open?

Good news - the infamous €9 substantial meal is dead. The only difference between restaurants and pubs now will be if they are operating indoor or outdoor.

Pubs, including restaurants and beer gardens, will open for outdoor service only on June 7.

Groups will be limited to six people, similar to how they were at Christmas.

And what about indoor dining?

The Government has not yet given a date for indoor dining.

However, the Taoiseach said tonight that he wants to see restaurants back to doing “what they do best” and said that indoor hospitality will be looked at for later in the summer.

Will nightclubs ever reopen?

This question was asked of the Taoiseach tonight.

“I don’t think I’ll make it to coppers any time soon,” he admitted.

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“Indoor is difficult,” he added.

But Tánaiste Leo Varadkar quipped: “Coppers has a large outdoor area and a nice balcony. So you never know, Taoiseach, you might get there yet.”

The revised Path Ahead plan, announced today, says that some “high-risk” activities will be considered for reopening later in the year. Nightclubs are included here.

When can I see my friends?

From May 10, up to 15 people will be allowed to gather outdoors.

In private gardens, a maximum of three households, or six people, can meet up in a private garden.

Those who are vaccinated will be able to visit others who are fully vaccinated indoors, with a maximum of three households present if they are not at risk of severe illness.

From June 7, visitors from one household can go visit one other household.

Will students be back on campus in September?

Mr Martin also admitted the hardship that has been faced by students during the pandemic.

He said that student life needs to come back in September as two academic years have been “severely disrupted” for young people.

His Minister for Further Education Simon Harris has said that antigen testing will be trialled on college campuses to help students resume on-campus activity in September.

Will cinemas open in June?

Despite the official Government website and Merrion Street Twitter account stating that cinemas will open on June 7 right after Mr Martin concluded his speech, it was later changed to clarify that cinemas and theatres, subject to a green light from Nphet, will reopen sometime in June.

What about galleries and museums?

From May 10, galleries, museums, libraries and other cultural attractions will reopen

When can I leave my county?

Inter county travel will be allowed again from May 10.

When can I go shopping?

From May 10, click and collect services will resume. In store trading will be allowed for shoppers who have made appointments.

Garden centres and outdoor retailers will also reopen.

From May 17, all other non-essential retailers, like big clothing stores and shopping centres, will reopen.

Should I be booking a staycation?

With inter-county travel allowed from May 10, staycations may be possible from then.

From June 2, hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and hostels will reopen. Guests staying at these will be allowed to eat indoors.

However, you’ll have to wait until June 7 for restaurants and bars to reopen for outdoor trading.

...or a holiday abroad?

International travel will be one of the aspects examined by the Government as the summer and reopening progresses.

The EU is working on a Digital Green Cert for those who have been fully vaccinated and Mr Martin said that this will be in place “certainly by July”.

It will be up to each member State to decide how they implement the Green Cert and if they allow it to be treated as a “vaccine passport”.

Currently, the Government advice against non-essential travel abroad remains.

Interestingly, the Taoiseach also said that the controversial mandatory quarantine system will be reviewed at the end of May. So, watch this space.

Will my children be able to make their Holy Communions and Confirmations?

While religious services will recommence on May 10, the Government is not currently advising for Holy Communions, Confirmations or Baptisms to take place.

What religious services will resume?

From May 10, Masses will resume.

For funerals, 50 mourners will be allowed at services but it is not advised that “related events” should take place before or after the ceremony.

For weddings, 50 guests are allowed at civil or religious ceremonies. To hold receptions, six people are allowed for indoors gatherings and 15 outdoors for outdoor gatherings.

From June 7, the numbers of guests attending wedding celebrations or receptions will increase to 25.

When can I go back to the gym?

June 7. This includes swimming pools and leisure centres.

This does not include fitness classes indoors.

What about training outdoors?

From May 10, a maximum of 15 people can train in a pod.

Matches will come back on June 7 - but there will be no spectators.

Any sign of concerts?

Interestingly, the Government is looking at a pilot proposal for entertainment and cultural events, such as concerts.

These will be both outdoor and indoor and further detail is yet to come.

Recently, a rock concert was held in Barcelona where attendees wore masks and took tests before entry. It is unknown if the Irish pilot will be to a similar scale.

Anything else?

From May 4, construction sites will fully reopen.

From May 10, public transport will return to 50pc capacity.

Businesses will be able to avail of the usual supports- those availing of CRSS will be able to avail of double restart week payments for two weeks to a maximum of €5,000 per week.

The PUP will also continue until the end of June.

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