The Taoiseach has outlined the reopening plan throughout May and June, saying the country is in a better place and the Covid-19 strategy "is working" thanks to the efforts of people and the vaccination programme.

Micheál Martin made the announcement at Government Buildings after the Cabinet approved the proposals earlier today.

People will be allowed to travel across the country from 10 May.

On the same day hairdressers, barbers and beauticians will reopen by appointment only, along with libraries, museums, galleries and other cultural attractions, while click-and-collect for non-essential retail will also resume.

Up to 50 people will be allowed to attend religious services, including weddings and funerals.

However, indoor wedding parties will remain capped at six guests and 15 for outdoor celebrations.

Small outdoor gatherings will be possible for up to 15 people as will adult training in pods of a maximum of 15.

From 10 May also, three households, or a group of six people, can meet outdoors, including in private gardens, and a vaccinated household can meet an unvaccinated one indoors.

This is to allow grandparents in particular meet their extended families.

Public transport will operate at 50% capacity.

On 17 May all shops will be able to reopen, and on 2 June hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses and self-catering accommodation can open again.

Outdoor hospitality, including restaurants and all pubs, will resume on 7 June. Gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres can reopen on the same date for individual training.

While matches will resume on this date, it will be later in the summer before even small numbers of fans are allowed attend.

Also from 7 June, 25 guests can attend wedding receptions and indoor visits in private homes involving one other household can begin again.

The Taoiseach said: "Because of your hard work, we are now in a better place."

Micheál Martin said the Government has looked at various things in judging how to reopen society safely, as well as the risks of moving too quickly.

He said the phased reopening was advised as being low to medium risk by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

The Taoiseach added the Government is determined that anything that reopens will stay open.

Mr Martin said the easing of measures will allow up to 200,000 people to return to work.

He said: "I understand how difficult it has been for business and workers, and the huge desire there is for people just to make a living again."

He also said that "no effort whatsoever will be spared" to ensure that every vaccine brought into the country is administered as quickly as possible.

Mr Martin said almost all of the country's most vulnerable people are protected, adding that the online vaccine portal will open next week for those aged 50-59.

Already, he said, the rates of death, hospital admissions and infections in people who have been vaccinated have collapsed.

Moving into July and beyond, the Taoiseach said he hopes to see aviation, tourism and all hospitality businesses back at work, along with a return of artistic and cultural life.

He said the Government also hopes that students will be back on campus for the next academic term.

Any business availing of the Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme, which can now reopen, will be able to avail of double payments up to a maximum of €5,000 per week to aid with reopening, he added.


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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said two words he would use to sum up today's news are "hope and caution".

Speaking at a Government press conference, Leo Varadkar said the pandemic is "still on fire around the world" and the virus is still very active in our communities.

He said 75% of adults are still not vaccinated.

Speaking on RTÉ's Prime Time, he said there is no reason why the online vaccine registration portal cannot be opened for separate age groups running in parallel.

Mr Varadkar said if there were spare vaccine doses available, such a move could not be ruled out.

"It's not the case that we can't do groups in parallel. So the portal opens for people in their 50s next week but let's say we had vaccines to spare, there's no reason we couldn't open the portal for people aged 45 to 50 as well," he said.

The HSE is revising its plans next week, he said, and may be revised again further subject to NIAC advice.

Mr Varadkar said the government's target of 80% of adults having received a vaccine dose by the end of June remained as the target they were working towards.

"It is a stretch target, it's going to be hard to meet, but we still think it's possible to do it," he said, adding that supply was out of their control, and that the doses that do arrive are administered as soon as possible.

He told today's briefing he was conscious that there was not good news for everyone today, and it will take more time for sectors such as hospitality, tourism, aviation, entertainment and the arts to reopen.

Mr Varadkar said the advice is that people should continue to work from home where possible and it is unlikely there will be a return to the workplace until September.

He also said that by the end of May, the Government will set out a plan about what it will do with all the various Covid-19 financial supports from July onwards.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said this evening is about good news.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, she said the test of getting things right is about reopening things.

However, she said that running alongside this must be an increased Government commitment to testing and tracing, and to accelerating the vaccination programme.

She said those are the building blocks necessary to ensure there are no further spikes in infection and no further restrictions.

Ms McDonald said supports must remain in place for as long as they are needed.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said that every tool must be used to keep the virus under control, particularly antigen testing.

Mr Kelly said that transparency and clarity of communication on the vaccination programme would be essential.

Driving lessons for essential workers agreed by Cabinet

The Cabinet approved a plan today that will enable essential workers to secure the necessary driving lessons required to take a driving test.

The plan also envisages driving instruction proceeding for motorbike users - both essential and non-essential motorcyclists.

It is understood that another element of the plan involves non-essential learner drivers, who have been waiting the longest to obtain lessons, to be prioritised.

The details are being worked out with the Road Safety Authority and final approval is expected in the coming days.

Passport office to be recategorised as essential service

Cabinet also passed a memo today from Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney deeming the Passport Office an essential service and increasing staffing.

While the public office remains closed, the Department of Foreign Affairs says the service is "very much open".

However, the Dáil heard last week that there is a current backlog of more than 90,000 applications.

In excess of 428,000 passports have been issued since the first lockdown was called on 12 March 2020.