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Weddings and hair salons to get green light in next phase


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Summer weddings and the reopening of hairdressers are to get the go-ahead from the end of the month as the country takes another major step out of Covid-19 lockdown.

The Cabinet will loosen restrictions across a broad range of pressing areas of social and economic life when it meets today to consider the next phase of the roadmap from June 29.

There will also be good news for hotels and B&Bs and people will be able to take a holiday in Ireland from the end of June.

Couples whose wedding plans were on hold will be relieved to know they can have a small gathering.

New guidelines will also be issued for areas of culture and entertainment such as cinemas and theatres.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan confirmed the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) met yesterday to draw up advice on what should be included in the June 29 phase of the roadmap and hoped it will "bring clarity" to various sectors.

Restaurants and pubs which serve a substantial meal will be back in business from that date.

Dr Holohan confirmed yesterday their customers will not need to wear face masks because they will not be moving about, but he did not rule it out in the future.

He said pubs which do not serve food could be the "most risk in terms of transmission of the virus". They will not open until July and there is still work to do around how they will operate safely.

A further four deaths from the virus were reported yesterday, bringing the toll to 1,714.

Another 16 people were diagnosed with the virus and 23 patients remain in intensive care, with one admission in the previous 24 hours.

Philip Nolan of Maynooth University, who is tracking the spread of the virus, said overall the level of infection here is at a low level and stable but it will be next week before the impact of the most recent reopenings will be seen.

He said: "The reproductive number is now estimated to be close to 0.7. It is heartening to see that none of the data suggests that there is a significant increase of transmission of Covid-19 in the community since the commencement of phase two."

However, an increase in people bringing the virus here from abroad is raising concern.

Airline travellers from the UK and Sweden were among the "fewer than 10" people who arrived here in the past 10 days and tested positive for the virus.

The advice to people is not to travel abroad for non-essential trips.

The advice that anyone who arrives here on a flight must self-quarantine for a fortnight has been extended for three more weeks.

Prof Nolan said the numbers infected are now less likely to be in workplaces or nursing homes, and the greater proportion pick up the virus in the community or in private homes.

There are 48 patients still in hospital and three were admitted in the previous 24 hours.

Asked about statements by an official from the European Centre for Disease and Control that a second wave of Covid-19 was inevitable, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said we are not yet out of the first wave.

He added it was not believed that a second wave was inevitable in this country, insisting it was too early to say.

"The evidence to date is that people and businesses have been following the guidance and the "spirit of that guidance".

He added: "But it will be a challenge to ensure that is maintained over time and we are hopeful people have adopted these new behaviours as habits. But that is not a given as we move on."

Irish Independent