Ireland reopening: What Covid-19 restrictions are changing on October 22?

Ireland reopening: What Covid-19 restrictions are changing on October 22?

OCTOBER 22 was poised to be Ireland's 'Freedom Day', the day when the vast majority of public health measures were binned as the country takes its first major step back towards pre-pandemic normality after a year-and-a-half of lockdown.

This was the plan, until a potential fifth-wave of Covid-19 reared its ugly head.

As early as last month, fears began to grow that October 22 wouldn't be the grand reopening the country was hoping for.

As Covid-19 case numbers began to creep up, members of the government refused to rule out making an impromptu u-turn on Freedom Day, and after an emergency National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) meeting on Monday, those fears were all but confirmed.

Addressing the nation on Tuesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin explained that - on the advice of NPHET - the government would be doing whatever it could to reduce the risk of a deadly fifth wave of Covid-19, and subsequently putting the health service under severe pressure heading into winter.

What this means is that a number of key restrictions will be remaining in place for a few months.

Martin did however insist that the reopening plan was still going ahead, just a little slower than initially planned.

Here's everything you need to know about which rules are changing on October 22:

Social distancing

Initially, social and physical distancing in indoor spaces was to be scrapped on Freedom Day, but now the rule is set to remain in place until February 2022.

Social distancing outdoors is no longer required.


Another rule that was set to be scrapped (save for public transport and retail settings), but now wearing masks indoors is a rule that will remain in place until February 2022.

Vaccine certificates

Digital vaccine certificates will remain for indoor hospitality and the nightclub sector. In fact, all sectors that were due to fully reopen on October 22 will now only be able to reopen to customers who can provide proof of vaccination.

Vaccine certs will no longer apply for outdoor events, however.

Pubs and restaurants

As mentioned above, the hospitality sector is to remain open, but indoor areas will still only be able to accessed by individuals with digital vaccine certificates.

Table service only will also remain a rule in pubs, restaurants and cafés across the country.

A maximum of 10 adults and a maximum of 15 people including children at a table will also remain a rule.

Limits on indoor/outdoor group activities

Fixed capacity limits will no longer apply for indoor and outdoor group activities, but protective measures such as mask wearing and social distancing should be in place.

Where groups are mixed indoors, pods of six people should apply.

Religious services

There will be no capacity limits on religious services, but social distancing rules and other protective measures will likely remain in place.


There will be no capacity limits on weddings or funerals, but social distancing rules and other protective measures will remain in place.

Return to work/offices

A return to workplaces on a "phased and cautious" basis will continue.

What has the Taoiseach said?

"In line with NPHET advice, those sectors due to reopen on the 22nd of October may now only do so on the basis that all customers produce their proof of vaccination and identity," Martin said.

"On this issue, I want to give a very clear message - the vaccination programme and the use of Covid passes is how we've been able to open the hospitality sector so far. To stay open, we need everyone to enforce and respect the rules.

"Other changes include the following: In hospitality venues, table service only should remain in place, with a maximum of 10 adults per table, and maximum of 15 including children.

"Covid passes and fixed capacity limits will not apply for outdoor events, however sectors should ensure that appropriate protective measures are in place.

"Fixed capacity will no longer apply for indoor and outdoor group activities, however protective measures must be put in place, and where groups are mixed indoors, pods of six should apply.

"Religious services and weddings can proceed as planned without capacity limits, but with all other protective measures in place.

"Alongside these changes, we've also agreed an enhanced role for the use of antigen testing throughout society. Tests will now be sent to fully vaccinated close contacts of confirmed cases, and we will work with the sectors to develop a role for antigen testing to further improve the safety of certain events and activities."