More parts of economy to reopen from Friday

The Government has decided that any sectors or businesses due to reopen on Friday can do so but with specific protective measures in place.

At a briefing at Government Buildings Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the progress made over the course of the last year is “real and tangible and has to be protected”.

The Cabinet met at Dublin Castle earlier to consider the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in relation to the planned easing of restrictions on Friday.

This Friday was due to see an end to the requirement for physical distancing, or mask wearing outdoors, or indoor, in private settings.

NPHET had advised that existing restrictions on hospitality should stay in place until around spring 2022.

The Government’s revised reopening plan includes the return of normal trading hours in bars and restaurants but table service only measures will remain with a maximum of ten adults at a table

These premises and nightclubs too will only be open to those with a digital certificate.

Micheál Martin said businesses or any event that allows people indoors must check for proof of vaccination and enforce the rules.

The caps on numbers at weddings and religious ceremonies are also to be dropped and a return to full capacity at sports stadiums has been included under the measures agreed by cabinet.

Mr Martin said Covid passes will not apply for outdoor events.

He added that fixed capacity will no longer apply for indoor and outdoor activities but protective measures must be put in place. Mr Martin said where groups are mixed indoors, pods of six will apply.

Antigen testing will also play a bigger role in this phase of reopening and tests will be sent to fully vaccinated close contacts.

These new measures will be in place until February 2022. The Taoiseach said there will be sector specific guidance issued.