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Cocooners warned to avoid pubs not using two-metre distancing as hairdressers, cinemas and eateries reopen

Hairdressers, cinemas and eateries reopening from today

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As pubs serving food reopen on Monday 29th June, publicans spent the weekend getting ready to welcome back their regulars. Customers will see changes to their local, including hand sanitisers, screens between tables and safety signs. Photo: Clare Keogh

As pubs serving food reopen on Monday 29th June, publicans spent the weekend getting ready to welcome back their regulars. Customers will see changes to their local, including hand sanitisers, screens between tables and safety signs. Photo: Clare Keogh

As pubs serving food reopen on Monday 29th June, publicans spent the weekend getting ready to welcome back their regulars. Customers will see changes to their local, including hand sanitisers, screens between tables and safety signs. Photo: Clare Keogh

Cocooners should protect themselves from Covid-19 by avoiding pubs or restaurants opening today where the full two-metre physical distancing is not enforced.

The new guidance to the over-70s and medically vulnerable groups comes as the biggest step yet in exiting the lockdown will allow a major reopening of businesses with many restaurants and pubs welcoming customers for the first time in 104 days.

Pubs serving food are allowed to trade and sell alcohol. But they must also serve a meal costing at least €9 and ensure physical distancing of at least one metre.

The advice to older people and those with weakened immune systems is to "make sure you attend venues that are large enough to accommodate two metres of physical distancing between tables and have safe entry and exits.

"Keep attendance as short as possible, wear a face covering moving around the restaurant and wash your hands on returning home."

If they are visiting a hairdressing salon, they are advised to ask for a time when there may be fewer customers - at the start or end of the day.

They can have visitors to their home but need to keep a two-metre distance.

Travel within the Republic is also allowed from today, kickstarting the vacation season with home holidays.

Over-70s and people who are medically vulnerable need to exercise caution here too and if they are opting for a break they should not share accommodation with people with whom they are not cocooning.

The biggest leap yet into the new normal of living with Covid-19 comes as another death from the virus was reported yesterday, bringing the toll to 1,735.

Another three people have been diagnosed with the virus. It means 25,439 people have tested positive so far.

Although the virus levels are low, fears remain about new outbreaks of infection as hundreds of thousands of people will be mixing from this week for the first time since restrictions were imposed.

From today, hairdressing salons, pubs serving food, restaurants, cafés, hotels, galleries, theatres, cinemas, museums, swimming pools and summer camps can all reopen as long as they follow Covid-19 precautions.

Weddings and other gatherings with up to 50 people indoors, and 200 outdoors, can take place.

Religious services will resume and the limits on people not travelling outside their own county will lift, paving the way for visits to friends, relatives and holiday breaks around the country.

Crèches, childminders, preschools and youth camps are also back in business.

Close contact sports as well as team leagues for adults and children will return.

Face coverings will be mandatory on public transport.

Vintners Federation of Ireland chief Padraig Cribben said that while the reduction to a one-metre distancing rule would improve the ability of pubs to trade, many challenges remained.

"The 105-minute 'sitting time', for instance, is a directive our members must implement but when it comes to policing the rule they are left to their own devices."

Pubs serving only alcohol cannot open until July 20. Around 450 pubs will open in Dublin and many are already booked out for several days.

Pubs and restaurants are being told they must hold on to customers' contact numbers for a month.

There needs to be a minimum of 15 minutes between bookings to allow for adequate cleaning and allow customers to enter and leave without mixing.

A list of countries with which Ireland can build air bridges is due to be published in the next week. Tourists from both countries will not need to self-quarantine for two weeks either when they arrive at their foreign destination or return home.

The list is expected to be restrictive because of fears of another resurgence of the virus from people bringing it here from abroad.

New Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said yesterday he understood the anxiety about the risks from foreign travel and he would seek a briefing this week in advance of any proposed list of air bridges.

Meanwhile, the Asthma Society of Ireland is calling on the new Government to insert explicit exemptions into any regulations making face coverings mandatory in public spaces for people with chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD. People with asthma and COPD can struggle to breathe when active and, for those who are out and about, they may find that face coverings further impede their breathing.

In addition, for those who have a history of asthma attacks, face coverings may exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, a common experience for people with asthma and COPD.

CEO of the Asthma Society Sarah O'Connor said it was important that exceptions were made for those who felt they were not safe.

Irish Independent