Gyms, cinemas, leisure facilities, hairdressers, barber shops, and places of worship including churches which have been shut down for months following the coronavirus outbreak, will reopen in Ireland starting from June 29, announced Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Friday.
These are parts of the measures approved at a cabinet meeting on Friday chaired by Varadkar in a bid to accelerate the country's steps in restarting its society and economy, which has been badly hit by the pandemic since the introduction of a nationwide lockdown at the end of March.
Announcing these measures in a televised statement at Government Building where his office is located, Varadkar said that in Phase 3, which is scheduled to commence on June 29, all sporting activities, including close contact sports, can recommence including team leagues for adults and children provided these activities will take place with very limited numbers of spectators.
He also said that mass gatherings of up to 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors will be allowed in Phase 3 and the numbers of people allowed for indoor and outdoor mass gatherings will rise to 100 and 500 respectively in Phase 4, which is scheduled to commence on July 4.
Varadkar urged the public to continue keeping vigilance against the virus by following two-meter social distancing rules if possible and wearing face coverings on public transport or in a crowded indoor space.
He also said that people should still work from home if they can.
On May 18, Ireland embarked on a road to reopen its society and economy in five phases with each phase lasting three weeks. Later the five-phase reopening plan was boiled down to four phases with each phase's length remaining unchanged thanks to the successful efforts made by the country in suppressing the virus.
The Irish Department of Health on Friday night reported 13 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two more COVID-19-related deaths in the country. These are in sharp contrast to hundreds of cases and dozens of deaths daily reported at the peak time of the outbreak in April.
To date, a total of 25,368 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Ireland, of which 1,714 have died from the disease, according to the department. ■