Explainer: What Covid restrictions are easing today?

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said yesterday that Ireland is entering a “new phase” of easing restrictions.

So what exactly is reopening today?

Not only will many people return to work in an office for the first time since the start of the pandemic, many businesses including indoor dance, yoga and Pilates studios, art classes and indoor sports and fitness classes will open for up to 100 people.

Indoor bands, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, chess, bridge and other indoor activities will also return today.

Any more details?

All those attending these indoor spaces must be fully vaccinated or prove they are immune via recent recovery from Covid-19.

All restrictions on outdoor group activities will also be removed, meaning there will be no upper limit on numbers.

What else did Varadkar say?

Mr Varadkar said today will be “a big day for thousands of businesses who are opening their doors for the first time since the pandemic and thousands of more people getting back to work”.

“It has been an incredibly challenging 18 months for those running indoor activities. Business owners have had to make huge changes to their business, from moving outdoors to moving online. Your efforts to date have doubtless saved lives,” he added.

He said it was thanks to the success of the vaccination programme that Ireland was in a position to ease restrictions further and allow these indoor activities to take place.

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan also had a few words to share?

Yes. He thanked the public for its “solidarity” in ceasing the spread of Covid-19 and asked those who remain unvaccinated to get the jab.

Dr Holohan addressed older people, in particular, assuring them the vaccination is the best way to stay safe as the country moves into autumn.

“Vaccination remains our best means of protection against Covid-19,” Dr Holohan said.

“The vaccines available in Ireland are very safe and effective against Covid-19.

“While it may be still possible for people who are vaccinated to pick up this disease when we still have such high levels of disease in the community, these vaccines are especially good at limiting the likelihood of that becoming a severe infection that would, for example, require admission to hospital or to intensive care.

“There are still some people who haven’t yet taken up the opportunity of vaccination, or who have delayed receiving a second dose for various reasons.

“I strongly encourage anyone who is in this position to ensure they get fully vaccinated as soon as possible in order to best protect themselves and those around them.”

How is our vaccination programme looking?

More than 90pc of those aged over 16 are now fully vaccinated, the highest rate in the EU.

What are the latest numbers?

He was speaking as another 1,224 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed yesterday. Yesterday morning there were 278 patients in hospital with the virus, of whom 63 were in ICU.

Any other notes?

Dr Tony Holohan repeated the health advice of; “Continue to regularly wash hands, wear a mask when appropriate – particularly in retail settings, on public transport and in healthcare settings; keep your distance, open windows and ventilate indoor spaces, avoid crowds and choose outdoors where possible for meeting others.

“This suite of measures will also help stop the transmission of seasonal influenza, common colds and other respiratory illnesses that are more prevalent over the winter months.

“As we move into this next phase of the pandemic, the most important action to take is – if you display symptoms of Covid-19 like cough, fever, headache, sore throat and blocked or runny nose – isolate and contact your GP who will advise if you need to arrange a test.”

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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