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Government warns ‘every contact counts’ as Ireland prepares to ease restrictions

Health restrictions will be lifted on a phased basis over the next few weeks.

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A man walks past a new mural in Phibsborough, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

A man walks past a new mural in Phibsborough, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

A man walks past a new mural in Phibsborough, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Irish Government has urged the public to remember “every contact counts” as restrictions to suppress the coronavirus are to be eased from Tuesday.

The health measures will be lifted on a phased basis over the next few weeks.

Senior civil servant Liz Canavan warned that as people meet over the festive holidays, there will always be an element of risk of spreading Covid-19.

Ireland will move to Level 3 from tomorrow following a six-week lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

“Our main message is that every contact counts,” Ms Canavan warned.

“(Data) shows very clearly that as our contacts are reduced the incidence of the virus also reduces.

“If you are meeting people there will always be an element of risk. We are asking that you actively manage that risk, outdoors is better than indoors.”

Weddings guests and mourners at funerals will be limited to 25 people while no organised indoors events are permitted.

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Liz Canavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Liz Canavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Liz Canavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Gatherings of up to 15 people are allowed to take place outdoors while non-contact training may take place outdoors and in pods of 15, while individual training is permitted indoors.

Gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools will also reopen for individual training on Tuesday.

Hotels, B&Bs and non-essential retail can also reopen.

People are still being urged to work from home and public transport is limited to 50%. People have also been advised to stay within their own county.

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If you are meeting people there will always be an element of risk.Liz Canavan

Places of worship, museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas will also reopen. However, wet pubs are closed except for takeaways.

The Government has also recommended that the public should wear face coverings in crowded places.

“Places of worship will reopen from tomorrow and we understand there are some concerns about capacity to the demand for services over the Christmas period within the current guidelines,” Ms Canavan added.

“Additional measures will be put in place to address overcrowding and scheduling additional services and advance booking systems.”

She warned, however that just because something is permitted, does not mean it is without risk.

The Christmas bonus will be paid to 1.6 million social welfare recipients, amounting to a record 319 million euro.

Among those to receive the bonus include pensioners, people with disabilities, carers and lone parents.

More than 56 million euro has been paid to 11,000 businesses through the Covid Restriction Support Scheme.

Meanwhile, the Irish Government expects to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations in the coming months, Simon Coveney has said.

However, the Foreign Affairs Minister warned the public not to be complacent in following health measures over the Christmas period.

Mr Coveney said the Government is loosening restrictions for the month of December to allow “some sense of normality to return” in the build-up to Christmas.

“It doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to live very much aware of the presence of Covid-19 and its threat of spread, so we encourage people to continue to do all the basic things,” he added.

“We all expect that we will have vaccines in the first quarter of next year.

“This is all about trying to avoid a significant third wave that will result in the tightening of restrictions until we get to a point where we can protect vulnerable people initially with vaccines and then society as a whole.”

As restrictions begin to ease across the state, the Government and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will focus on testing and contact tracing, Mr Coveney added.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was meeting Professor Brian MacCraith, head of the state’s vaccination taskforce, on Monday.

Prof MacCraith’s team is scheduled to deliver a rollout strategy to Government in mid-December.

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