THE THREE leaders of the coalition government will meet at Government Buildings this morning after it was revealed last night that the National Public Health Emergency Team were recommending the lifting of almost all Covid-19 restrictions.
It is believed that NPHET have only recommended the continued use of face masks, Covid passes for international travel and the requirement to isolate when symptomatic.
A timeline for the lifting of restrictions has not been laid out, leaving it up to government to decide the rate at which they will be eased.
Following the meeting of the three leaders, there will be a Cabinet meeting at 3pm.
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, appearing on RTÉ's Prime Time last night, said that throughout the pandemic the government have tried to get the balance right between the needs of the economy and public health.
"I do think the broader picture is that we will be able to get out of the regulations quicker than would have been possible a while ago," he said.
When asked if the 8pm closure time of pubs and restaurants should be lifted today, and not on Monday, he said it would be best to read the letter from NPHET and consider it before making a decision.
Donohoe also said the government will outline what it means to live with Covid in the medium and long-term.
The Licensed Vintners Association in Ireland said last night the the news coming from NPHET "has been eagerly awaited by the entire hospitality and lat night sectors for a long, long time."
"Hopefully the Government will now move swiftly and there will be no delays to the full reopening & the scrapping of hospitality restrictions," it said.
Hospitality is ready and waiting to open our doors this weekend.
If the Government gives the green light the recovery of hospitality and the night time sector could begin as early as Friday night
— LVA (@LVADublinPubs) January 20, 2022
Restaurants Association of Ireland Chief Executive Adrian Cummins also tweeted last night to say that the RAI was calling on all hospitality businesses to trade as normal from today, Friday 21 January.
🚨The vast majority of the Hospitality sector is ready and prepared to reopen fully and under normal trading conditions with immediate, subject Public Health Advice.
No going back
— Adrian Cummins 🇮🇪🇪🇺 (@adriancummins) January 20, 2022
Today, changes to rules on self-isolation and table service in pubs and restaurants will also come into effect in Northern Ireland.
The minimum period of self-isolation for those with Covid has changed to five full days from seven.
People who test positive will need to produce negative lateral flow tests on day five and day six to end their period in isolation.
Table service can be dropped from midday, and the rule of a maximum of six people to a table from no more than six households will also be lifted.
The guidance on working from home will revert to doing so where you can, with employers encouraged to facilitate this.
From next Wednesday, 26 January, the use of vaccine passports at pubs, restaurants and cinemas will no longer be required.
Nightclubs will also reopen on that day and dancing can resume at indoor standing events.
Vaccine passports will still be needed for nightclubs and indoor unseated and partially-seated events with 500 or more people in attendance.
The need for offices to "take reasonable measures for 2m (6ft) social distancing" will be removed, although risk assessments should be carried out.