Leo Varadkar unveils plan to ease Ireland out of lockdown and return to the ‘new normal’

Leo Varadkar unveils plan to ease Ireland out of lockdown and return to the ‘new normal’

LEO VARADKAR has unveiled the plan to help ease Ireland out of lockdown and back to what he describes as “the new normal”. 

Speaking in an address to the Irish nation, the Taoiseach detailed how and when restrictions across the country would begin to ease. 

From Tuesday, May 5, the public will be permitted to travel up to 5km from home for exercise while those over 70 who have been cocooning will be permitted to leave their homes for a walk or other form of gentle exercise. 

According to Mr Varadkar, from mid-May Ireland will begin to come out of lockdown "in a slow, phased way" designed to prevent a potential second wave of coronavirus. 

"It will take some time for our lives to get back to normal. To a new normal. But it will happen,” he said. 

"So, on the 18 May, Ireland begins to re-open and begins that journey to a new normal. 

"From that day, outdoor work like construction and landscaping will resume. Some retail outlets like garden centres, hardware stores, repair shops will re-open, and some outdoor sporting and fitness activities in small groups will be allowed. 

"Many regular health services will resume operating. And it will be possible to meet small groups of friends and family outdoors." 

"Not long from now, some summer night, we will see our friends again," the Taoiseach added. 

Under the five-step plan outlined by Mr. Varadkar, some of the restrictions currently in place across Ireland will be lifted every three weeks until mid-August. 

Despite the progressive nature of the plans outlined, the Taoiseach was keen to stress that the continued lifting of restrictions is dependent on the virus remaining under control. 

The first phase pf the plan will see outdoor meetings permitted between people from different households from May 18, provided they maintain social distancing rules.  

Public amenities will also reopen on this date. 

The second phase, from June 8, will see libraries and some retail outlets re-open, again with strict social distancing protocols adhered to. 

Visits to other households will also be permitted at this stage. 

June 29 will mark the start of phase three, with small social gatherings permitted and non-essential retail outlets allowed to re-open. 

Phase four, which begins on July 20, will see childcare providers allowed to re-open while anyone who cannot work from home will also be allowed to return to their place of employment. 

Museums, galleries and places of worship will also re-open. 

There will also be what is termed s “gradual easing of restrictions” on higher risk services like hairdressers. 

Finally, from August 10, phase five will begin with the country fully re-opened with larger social gathers allowed and people returning to work across all sectors. 

Schools and colleges will return for the new academic the following September. 

During an appearance on the Late Late Show later that same day, Mr Varadkar added that it would also be "possible" for different counties to be simultaneously in different phases of lockdown provided there was no risk of a "pull factor" drawing people in who could "re-seed" a county.