PLACES of worship, cinemas, gyms, hairdressers and barbers are set to reopen on June 29, as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a revised phase three for the easing of coronavirus restrictions tonight.
All sporting activities have been given the green light to resume on June 29.
Eilish O'Regan answers all of your questions about the new guidelines for the road out of lockdown:
A. The lifting of so many restrictions ahead of schedule is a surprise. It’s not so long ago it was a big deal to advise over-70s they could go to the shops. But we are told the guidelines on the reopening of restaurants, hairdressers and pubs with food from the end of the month have all been through the public health wringer of the Department of Health’s expert group. They are not without risk but the key is that we are in a period of low transmission of the virus and that is what gives room for manoeuvre.
A. There is a big onus now on managers, staff and customers not to abuse the new freedoms and follow the rules. During full lockdown, there was less personal discipline needed from all of us as individuals because we spent so much time indoors and the State was effectively running our lives.
The good news is that people in this country have generally adopted anti-coronavirus behaviours as habits.
A. A poll by the Department of Health found more than one in two believe it is moving at the right pace. But 25pc felt the exit is happening too quickly. Around 12pc feel we are leaving lockdown too slowly.
A. The farther away people are from each other the better but there has to be a balance of risk. We are told that if all of the safety measures are followed that is it feasible.
Prof Luke O’Neill of Trinity College has previously spoken of the three Cs to be mindful of – closed spaces, crowded places and close contact. There will be a new set of guidelines again for pubs which do not serve food and will open in July.
A. It depends on a number of factors. The advice to the public is that if a person has any symptoms, not to delay contacting their GP and asking for a test for the coronavirus. They need to self-isolate and it’s a matter for the HSE to ensure a quick turnaround, including tracing contacts.
In the case of a pub, the big fear is that a customer who is infectious will visit different bars, not follow guidelines and end up being a super spreader. It’s why there is such a need for pub managers to have customers’ phone numbers and double-check for accuracy. Public health teams will then do their detective work.
A. They should not travel if they feel unwell. The basics remain – maintain physical distancing, handwashing or use sanitiser where that is not possible. Cover coughs and sneezes. Wear a face covering in shops, public transport or where people vulnerable to the virus might be. Opt for the outdoors rather than indoors where possible.
A. Public health doctors here say it is not inevitable. An official from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control seems to think that it will happen but that is a European perspective.
If there are outbreaks as a result of the reopenings in the coming weeks, they are likely to be handled locally and we are unlikely to see a return of the all-out lockdown imposed in March.
The infection might increase if more people from Ireland travel abroad and return with the virus – or travellers fly here. Beijing is back in quarantine due to an outbreak linked to coronavirus on a chopping board used to cut imported salmon, showing it is always lurking somewhere.