IRELAND IS finally set to ease the majority of restrictions after a long four months of Level 5 lockdown.
The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 sat until late in the night yesterday as they discussed the reopening of much of the economy, including outdoor dining, hotels, personal services such as hairdressers, gyms and weddings.
While the discussions are set to continue today,and nothing is 100% confirmed until the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, delivers a speech at around 6pm tonight, reports from senior sources indicate that hairdressers are set to reopen for appointments on 10 May, and beer gardens will open on 7 June.
According to The Irish Independent, the National Public Health Emergency Team has given their approval for inter-county travel from May 10, along with the reopening of personal services such as barbers, nail salons and hairdressers on an appointment basis.
Click and collect for non-essential retail will also return on that date, as will the rest of the construction industry and potentially outdoor retailers such as garden centres. Adult team training for sport can also return.
Three households can meet outside in a garden, rather than a public area, and up to 50 will be allowed to attend church services like Mass, weddings and funerals-- though only 6 people can attend the afters of a wedding indoors, or 15 outdoors.
From 2 June, hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and hostels can reopen, just in time for the bank holiday weekend, and residents can eat and drink in the hotel's bar and restaurant-- however it is understood that pubs and restaurants not attached to a hotel will not open until after the bank holiday.
From 7 June, all restaurants and pubs-- whether they serve food or not-- can reopen for outdoor dining, and the controversial €9 euro meal rule will be scrapped.
This will allow so-called 'wet pubs' to reopen-- some for the first time in over 400 days,s since March 2020.
Gyms are also expected to return on 7 June, The Irish Independent reports, and the number of people allowed to attend an indoor wedding party in June may also increase to 25.
The Cabinet and NPHET have also discussed the easing of some more restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated-- already, two people who are fully vaccinated can meet indoors without a mask.
Under new considerations, vaccinated grandparents may be able to meet their grandchildren without fear from 10 May.
The official announcement from Mr Micheál Martin is expected at around 6pm this evening.