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Lifting restrictions Varadkar signals reopening of hairdressers, retail and allowing more outdoor activities next month

Ministers to meet next week on "“what restrictions can be waived in May"

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

TÁNAISTE Leo Varadkar has signalled the reopening of hairdressers and retail, as well as allowing more outdoor activities, the resumption of religious services and the full return of construction from next month.

Mr Varadkar told reporters on Tuesday that the Cabinet would meet late next week to consider easing restrictions further in May and said Ministers would also look at setting out an idea of what other public health restrictions could be eased in June and July.

Speaking to reporters at Dublin Castle following the Cabinet meeting, Mr Varadkar said Ministers had agreed to meet next week when it will have advice from Nphet that it will allow it to decide “what restrictions can be waived in May”.

“That would involve looking at personal services, like barbers and hairdressers; retail; more outdoor activities; religious services’ and the full return of construction,” he said.

“They’re the kind of things that we’re going to look at next week for May. I don’t want to particularly speculate beyond that.”

He said that Ministers were considering meeting on Thursday or Friday for those meetings in addition to the Cabinet's usual Tuesday meeting.

“We would expect to indicate very clearly what restrictions will be eased in May and then set out an indicative idea as to what could be eased in June and July but I don’t want to go any further than that,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said that no changes are being made to the vaccine programme as of now as the National Immunisation Advisory Committee wants to wait until there is a decision on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from European Medicines Agency.

Mr Varadkar said that the Government had made no decision on whether to increase the gap between the first and second doses of vaccines.

“There are definitely pros and cons when it comes to spacing out vaccine doses,” he said. “By having a bigger gap between the first and second dose we could protect more people more quickly, but it would mean protecting people over a longer period so there are pros and cons to it.”

He said that people who have already received their first dose, such as the over 70s or medically vulnerable, would have their second doses administered as planned and would not see their second dose deferred.

“I think that would be unfair given they already have a date for their second dose and a legitimate expectation around that and also as well as that people who have had their first dose are the most vulnerable: people over 70, people who are medically vulnerable and healthcare workers, and it makes sense that they should be fully protected,” the Fine Gael leader said.

Mr Varadkar was speaking after the Cabinet signed off on legislation aimed at eliminating ticket touring. He said the the long-awaited Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill 2021 will protect consumers.

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“Hopefully in not too distant future we will be able to get back to major events and ticket touting will be something of the past that we won’t be going back to,” he said.

Junior enterprise minister Robert Troy said the new law was “timely” given that demand is going to outstrip supply for major events as they will not initially return at capacity once restrictions are eased.

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