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three phases Government plan to reopen country after lockdown revealed


Micheal Martin put Ireland on a second lockdown (Brian Lawless/PA)

Micheal Martin put Ireland on a second lockdown (Brian Lawless/PA)

Micheal Martin put Ireland on a second lockdown (Brian Lawless/PA)

Three phases of Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be announced for December under the Government’s plan to reopen the country after lockdown.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has told the Cabinet he intends on moving the country into Level 3 restrictions next week.

At Cabinet this morning there was a brief discussion on exiting lockdown but ministers agreed to give their views privately to their party leaders ahead of another meeting later this week.

The Government is awaiting recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) but it is expected there will be three phases of restrictions in December.

Next week non-essential retail will open along with hairdressers, barbers and gyms. Outdoor sports such as golf and tennis are also expected to be permitted.

The 5km travel ban may also be lifted and people could be allowed travel within their own county. Inter country travel for non-essential reasons will continue to be banned.

The ban on household visits may not be lifted next week and is expected to remain in place until later in December.

It is proposed the second phase of restrictions in December will see restaurants and bars that serve food reopen.

However, there are on going discussions about when this should happen and officials are also looking at new definitions for restaurants to ensure pubs are legitimately serving food.

Pubs may be required to have an operational kitchen to be allowed open under the new rules being considered.

“We want to clamp down on pubs opening because they have a chipper van out the back”, a Government source said.

The third phase of restrictions will see household visits permitted along with inter county travel. It is expected this will be closer to Christmas day to allow people return home and see their families.

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Guidance will be issued on how to have a safe Christmas gathering but definitive rules on how many people can be in a household are not expected.

“We don’t want people turning family members away from their doors,” a Government source said.

Restrictions may be once again increased in January to stop any further spread of the virus ahead of a vaccine being rolled out in the new year.

There are on going discussion within Government about easing the restrictions and Nphet are expected to issue guidance later this week.

The Cabinet will meet again to discuss the Nphet recommendation before the Taoiseach announce the new measures.

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