All retail stores may open from this Monday, and the domestic tourism sector and some hospitality operators can resume from 29 June.
However, the advice remains still to ‘stay local’ and also to continue working from home if possible.
The Taoiseach said the reopening was made possible by the “considerable sacrifices” of the public in recent months.
“Thanks to your perseverance in pushing back COVID-19 I am announcing an acceleration of the Roadmap. Over the last few months fear has exerted a kind of gravity pulling us down, but now we find there is hope lifting us up again,” he said this afternoon.
However, he urged continued adherence to basic hygiene and social distancing measures – hand washing, keeping two metres apart, observing coughing etiquette and avoiding crowded places.
Under the reconfiguration of the roadmap, there are now just two remaining phases instead of three, with Phase 3 starting on 29 June, and Phase 4 on 20 July.
Further work will be carried out in the coming days and weeks to determine which actions will take place in each phase. Some measures such as bans on mass gatherings may need to remain in place well into August, as will public health advice on hygiene and physical distancing.
Under Phase 2, from Monday 8 June, the following changes will come into effect:
- You can travel within your own county, or up to 20 km from your home, whichever is greater. These travel limits will be lifted from the end of June,
- Groups of up to six people will be able to interact with each other indoors or outdoors, once they keep at least two metres apart. Groups of up to 15 will be able to meet for outdoor sporting activities,
- For those who are over 70 or medically vulnerable, it will be possible to welcome a small number of visitors into your home, with physical distancing observed,
- Shops will also provide dedicated hours for those who are over 70 or in an at-risk group,
- All retail stores can reopen, but opening times will be staggered to relieve pressure on public transport. You are encouraged to shop locally, shop safely and support businesses in your community,
- Up to 25 people will be allowed to attend funerals of loved ones,
- Public libraries will commence re-opening,
- Playgrounds can reopen from Monday, and outdoor camps for children can also be run, once there are no more than 15 people involved,
- Certain types of elite sports training will also be possible,
- More people will be able to return to work, including all those who work on their own or whose work can be done safely while staying two metres apart from others. Working from home should remain the norm for those who can do so,
- Marts can re-open and greyhound racing can resume without spectators.
A new summer education programme for children with special educational needs and disadvantage will also commence as the indications are that it is now safe to do so.
This will include those who live with significant behavioural, social, emotional and sensory difficulties. Children with Down Syndrome will be included.
Shopping centres can re-open on 15 June, provided only shops open and measures are taken to ensure people do not congregate at benches, fountains or food courts.
It is hoped in three weeks’ time to move to a more advanced Phase 3, which would include the reopening of domestic tourism, and bringing forward the opening of hotels, restaurants, bars that also operate as restaurants, hostels, caravan parks, galleries and museums.
It is anticipated that places of worship will also be able to reopen from this point.
Social distancing measures will mean that capacity on public transport will remain very restricted, so people are encouraged to use public transport only for essential journeys, and wearing a face covering is recommended when doing so.
Business group Ibec welcomed the move, with chief executive Danny McCoy describing it as “a positive and sensible response”.