On Friday (1st May 2020) the Irish government released a roadmap for reopening society and business to ease the Coronavirus restrictions and reopen the Irish economy in a phased manner.
The roadmap will begin on May 18th 2020 at which point the country will re-open in a slow, phased manner. The plan includes five phases for unlocking restrictions with three week intervals. As restrictions are eased, the rate of the virus within communities will be monitored by the National Public Health Emergency Team and government.
The framework sets out how to keep the level of transmission of the virus as low as possible while balancing continuing restrictions proportionately with social and economic benefits which will be brought about by lifting restrictions.
In the meantime, the distance of leaving your home from next Tuesday will be extended to 5 kilometres for the purpose of exercise. People who are cocooning should continue to do so, however it will be possible from Tuesday to go outside for fresh air and exercise provided you keep within 5 kilometres of your home and observe social distancing at all times.
The roadmap will include 5 phases to ease restrictions. Each phase will consist of a menu of options which will be considered by the government as they gradually open economic and social activities.
Examples of the types of actions that will be considered include:
Phase one (18 May) –
- outdoor meetings will people from different households allowed
- open up childcare for health workers
- phased return for outdoor workers
- open retailers which are primarily outdoor or those which were open during first level of restriction (e.g. opticians)
- opening certain outdoor public amenities
Phase two (8 June) –
- visits to households allowed
- develop plans and support for reopening businesses with consideration of safety of staff and customers
- opening small retail outlets and marts where social distancing can be observed
- opening public libraries
Phase three (29 June) –
- small gatherings allowed
- opening of crèches, childminders and pre-schools for children of essential workers in phased manner
- return to work for those will low levels of interaction
- opening non-essential retail outlets with street level entrance and exits
- playgrounds open
Phase four (20 July) –
- opening of crèches, childminders and pre-schools for children of all other workers on a gradually increasing basis
- return to work for those who cannot work from home
- gradual easing on restrictions for higher risk services (e.g. hairdressers)
- museums, galleries and places of worship reopen
Phase five (10 August) –
- allowing larger gatherings
- all sectors return to work
- on phased basis, commencing at beginning of academic year 2020/2021, opening of primary, secondary and 3rd level schools/institutions
- further easing on restrictions for higher risk retail services
The roadmap also sets out framework for further future decision making, which will be underpinned by public health advice.
The government will regularly assess the following criteria while gradually restarting the economy:
- latest data on progression of the disease
- capacity of the health service
- capacity of testing and tracing system
- measures in place to protect the most vulnerable groups
- an assessment of the impact of excess morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions
The impact of COVID-19 on the economy and society will mean businesses will require additonal supports.
Many businesses will be unable to ick up where they left off. The government met again on Saturday 2nd May 2020 to discuss further packages of support to help businesses restart, reconnect and rehire staff who have been laid off or furloughed.
A National Protocol to protect the health and safety of workers is being developed by the Government, employers and trade unions with assistance from the Health an Safety Authority (HSE).
Although there is a possibility of a second wave of the virus, we can only move from one phase to the next as long as the virus stays under control between the phases. Physical distancing, good hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, regular cleaning and for people who are sick to isolate and stay at home are still required for the safety of yourself and others.
The government are conscious of the significant consequences of social distancing, meaning that the normal structures of daily life temporarily cease to exist.
The Roadmap also acknowledges the need to continue to work intensively on our approach to travel restrictions and controls at ports and airports and our co-operation with Northern Ireland , the UK and our EU partners.
Click Here to learn more and read the roadmap
Ireland have now released Return To Work Safety Protocol to ensure that when people do return to work, it is done effectively and in the safest possible way.