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Public transport returns to full capacity today but passenger numbers largely unchanged


File image of a DART train, photographed near Connolly Station in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

File image of a DART train, photographed near Connolly Station in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

File image of a DART train, photographed near Connolly Station in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Public Transport has returned to full capacity from this morning as the Government begins easing all remaining Covid-19 restrictions.

Reports from transport bodies suggest that numbers using public services have remained largely unchanged so far today, however.

Yesterday evening Taoiseach Micheal Martin delivered his much-anticipated address and confirmed that restrictions, which are currently in place, will be phased out between now and October 22 – barring the wearing of facemasks in healthcare settings, retail outlets and on public transport.

The lifting of capacity limits on buses and trains coincides with the return of schools this week and the phased return of office workers and third level students in the weeks ahead.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the decision to return to full capacity was not based on scientific data.

“It’s not really about the science, it’s not a public health recommendation. It’s something that [Transport] Minister Ryan was keen that it could be facilitated. We do want to be able to get people moving around the country.

"The current restrictions had been putting a lot of pressure on public transport, so it was something that he [Minister Ryan] was keen to see relaxed,” he said.

Mr Donnelly also confirmed that the measure was decided by Cabinet and was not part of the Nphet advisory on easing restrictions.

The Government’s new strategy is called ‘Covid-19: Reframing the Challenge, Continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting’.

On September 6, restrictions on organised indoor and outdoor events and mass gatherings will be eased for people who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid in the past six months.

Indoor entertainment such as music or sporting events will be able to operate at 60pc of their capacity for vaccinated and recovered people while large outdoor events such as sports in stadiums and concerts will be permitted at 75pc.

Religious ceremonies will be able to proceed with 50pc of a venue’s capacity, regardless of immunity status of ­worshippers. Music will be also be permitted inside at wedding functions.

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There will be a further easing of restrictions on September 20, which will see the ban on indoor group activities removed.

Organised indoor events will have a maximum capacity of 100 for vaccinated and recovered people. In circumstances where there is a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, pods of six people will be permitted indoors.

The number of pods allowed will be based on the size of a venue and the ability of organisers to implement protective measures.

Restrictions on outdoor group activities such as sports training will also be lifted on this date.

A return to work on a staggered basis will begin on September 20 and the Government will urge employers to take a common sense approach to returning to offices.

All restrictions will then finally be lifted on October 22.

This will include regulated mandates for social distancing. Limits on outdoor and indoors events will be ditched as will restrictions on religious ceremonies.

Digital Covid Certificates will only be needed for international travel and they will not be needed to enter restaurants or bars. They will also not be necessary for live events.

Nightclubs will also reopen on this date and the requirement to work from home will also be lifted.

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