EXPLAINED: Which Covid-19 restrictions will end at 6am on Saturday?
Taoiseach Micheal Martin is this evening announcing an end to most Covid-19 restrictions in place in Ireland from 6am on Saturday morning, January 22.
NPHET met earlier this week to discuss the current measures, concluding their meeting by sending a letter to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly with the recommendation to end most measures.
It was left up to Cabinet to decide when to officially scrap the restrictions.
Cabinet met on Friday to discuss proposals and agreed to end a number of restrictions from 6am on Saturday.
From that time onwards, pubs and restaurants will be able to return to their normal working hours while nightclubs will once again be allowed to re-open fully. Neither setting will be required to ask for a Covid-19 vaccination or recovery cert.
Covid certs will only be required for international travel.
Full attendance will be permitted and all indoor and outdoor events. There will be no more requirement for social distancing and no limits on household visits.
The only restrictions remaining in place beyond Saturday will be the wearing of face coverings in most indoor settings, including retail and schools. However, this measure may even end some time in February, it has been indicated. to continue,
People with Covid symptoms are still expected to isolate and seek a test as per guidelines on testing currently in place.
'Not over yet'
Earlier on Friday, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar warned that the return of restrictions cannot be ruled out, and said some measures – such as mask-wearing – could be retained in the future.
“This is a virus that has surprised us on many occasions, and it’s a virus that likes to rip up our plans,” he said.
“Nobody can rule out another wave after Omicron. Immunity does wane, there will be new variants of concern and of course, respiratory viruses spread more easily in wintertime.
“So nobody can rule out the possibility of a fifth wave. Nobody can say for sure whether that would be a mild or severe one.
“But I think that’s why it’s important that we continue to build on some of the changes that have been made during the course the last two years.”
He said Government will have to continue to increase capacity in hospitals and ICUs, and recruit more doctors, nurses and midwives into the health service.
He added: “And we’re gonna need to put in place monitoring systems to make sure that we can identify new variants quickly, identify their spread quickly.
“Also I think there will be a big focus on permanent changes to the way we act as individuals.
“I think we may all choose to wear masks in certain settings in the future, particularly if we have symptoms.
“We may all decide that we don’t go to work or we work from home, if we’ve symptoms in particular.”
He also praised the Irish public, health care workers and business sector for their response during the pandemic.
“The only thing I’d say, just a particular thanks to the Irish people. It’s been a very long two years,” he said.
“It’s certainly not over yet, but we’re in a much better place than we were in previously."
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