Words: Shamim de Brún
Today the Government will approve lifting almost all Covid-19 restrictions. Coalition leaders will agree on the exact timetable before a special Cabinet meeting this afternoon.
The official announcement is expected at six o’clock. It is supposed to take immediate effect, meaning hospitality should open as late as their licence allows this evening. However, this is not set in stone as a source told the Irish Times, “the Government is keen to give the hospitality sector time to prepare.” But the Restaurants Association of Ireland called on the Government to allow all hospitality businesses to trade as normal from today.
Licensed Vintners Association’s chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said that “hospitality is ready and waiting to open our doors this weekend. If the Government gives the green light, then the recovery of the hospitality and nighttime sectors could begin.”
Capacity restrictions for indoor and outdoor events are also set to be removed, meaning the Six Nations rugby games in February and March can go ahead with packed capacity crowds. Concerts, plays, and creative industries are also expected to recommence.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) gave the go-ahead for removing most Covid restrictions and regulations last night, including the end of using the digital pass for pubs and restaurants. The recommendations from NPHET came after as evidence mounted that the peak of the Omicron wave had passed.
According to the Irish Times, a phased return to the office has been recommended to allow workplaces to organise their safety measures.
This week the Government has been dropping hints that it favoured an early end to restrictions. However, mask-wearing in specific environments, including public transport and shops, is likely to be retained for the time being.
The requirement for the Covid-19 vaccination pass will remain for international travel. In addition, rules relating to contact tracing and isolation will also stay in place.
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