Taoiseach Micheal Martin has confirmed reopening plans around intercounty travel and the opening of hairdressers and retail businesses.

Day of Hope: Taoiseach outlines plan for summer re-opening and a route out of lockdown

- Hairdressers/salons will open on 10th May... libraries, museums and galleries will also open and team sports training will also resume on 10th May

- Fully vaccinated family allowed to welcome non-vaccinated family indoors

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

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has outlined plans for the reopening of society and the economy through the summer.

Speaking from Govt buildings he said "each and every one of us has an image of a moment that we're looking forward to enjoy when we get through this," and that as "disruptive, lonely, frustrating and as sad as the last year has been, we are getting through it, and a degree of normality is returning, the company of friends and relations is returning is returning."

Taoiseach's address:

"One month ago we started the process of easing very difficult restrictions on all our lives. I stood here and explained our strategy and the rationale that underpinned it. I set out the path ahead which I believe was responsible and realistic. I asked you to continue to exercise caution and to trust the science. That evening I promised that the government would continue to review all of the evidence and that before the end of April, we hoped to be able to continue the process of responsible reopening and to give more clarity on the path ahead.

"The good news is that the strategy is working because of your hard work and sacrifices, we are in a better place. A million of our children are now back safely at school. Our young people are back playing sport. House building has safely re-started all across the country. Vital non-Covid healthcare has been restored. And critically, our national vaccination program is progressing well.

"By tonight, more than one and a half million vaccine doses will have been administered. That means close to 30% of everyone over 16 has received at least one dose of the vaccine in making decisions on what should happen next.

"Government has weighed a number of considerations. We've looked at the progress achieved in managing the spread of the disease. The impact of the vaccination programme, and the need to continue responsibly reopening society and economy. But we've also looked at the risks of moving too quickly. We have to monitor closely the issue of dangerous new variants, and learn from the experience of other countries that are now in the grip of deadly new waves of the disease. And in particular, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of India. As a country, we're doing what we can to help them through this terrible time.

"As I've said repeatedly, we are determined to do everything we can to ensure that when we open a sector of our society, our economy, it stays open. Taking all of these factors into consideration, we now believe it is safe to continue moving forward in two phases over the coming months.

"The next phase will commence on the 10th of May, when a series of really important and very welcome freedoms will be restored. These include the resumption of intercounty travel, click and collect services and retail by appointment can begin at all non essential retail outlets with full reopening on the 17th of May. Galleries, museums and other cultural attractions and libraries can reopen again.

"Religious services can resume with a limit of 50 people attending and we can increase the numbers of people able to meet outdoors for social purposes, including a private garden to a maximum of three households, or a group of six people. Small organized outdoor gatherings, will also be possible, with a maximum attendance of 15 people. While outdoor training for adults can also recommence in pods of a maximum of 15 people.

"And it is with no small measure of personal relief that I can also confirm that on the 10th May hairdressing and other personal services will reopen by appointment across the country.

"From the 10th May there will also be increased opportunities for those who have been fully vaccinated, indoor private home visiting will be permitted without masks or social distancing in the following cases; those who are fully vaccinated may visit with other fully vaccinated people providing there was no more than three households present, and also fully vaccinated may visit with unvaccinated people from a single household, provided they are not at risk of severe illness.

"We will of course continue to monitor closely, the effect that these changes have on the spread of the disease, and subject to the situation remaining stable we will then proceed with the next phase.

"And this would mean that from June 2nd hotels, B&B's, guest houses and self catering accommodation can reopen for guests and from June 7th the following further steps will be possible. Outdoor services in bars and restaurants can recommence with sector specific safety measures in place, outdoor sports matches can recommence, but with no spectators at this time. Gyms, swimming pools and leisure centers can reopen for individual training. The number of guests attending wedding receptions can increase to 25 and indoor visits and private homes from one other household can begin again.

"Taking these steps, we'll see many thousands of people are going back to work for the first time in many months. I understand how difficult that has been for businesses and workers, and huge desire there is for people just to be able to make a living and again. I thank you in particular for the sacrifice you have. And it is your determination to get back to successful trading, which convinces me that our society and our economy will recover.

"There are very few families that have not witnessed firsthand the sense of relief and sheer joy of a loved one, receiving their vaccine. That will continue and accelerate significantly over the weeks ahead. And as it does the list of options available to us, continues to grow.

"As I look forward into July and beyond. I want to see our aviation, tourism, and all hospitality businesses back doing what they do better than anyone else on Earth. I want to see the safe return of our vital artistic and cultural life. And I want to see our students back on campus for the new academic year, and join the sort of further and higher education educational experience that they deserve. We can do all of these things, and plans are being developed in each of these sectors.

"However, to enable all of this, the key factor remains, sticking with the strategy, a gradual responsible reopening with all of us observing the rules and respecting the guidance that remains in place. Our choices and our individual behaviors remain key.

"We continue to escalate the rollout of vaccines, all of the time keeping a close and careful eye on the effects that each change we make has on the spread of this deadly virus. It has been very tough and unprecedented year in so many ways. But at any stage of this public health crisis you have done everything that has been asked of you. We as a government will continue to do everything we can to support you and make sure that together as a people, we emerge from the pandemic in a position where we can rebuild our society and our economy.

"Today, for example, we agree that any business currently availing of supports, which can now reopen will be available to avail of double payments, up to a maximum of €5000 per week to support them in meeting the costs of reopening.

"Despite the unprecedented demand for the virus placed on it, or health services being transformed. The health service of 2021 is very different to that of 2019. As Taoiseach, I am determined that we embed that positive change for the longer term.

"As we enter this next stage of a long and difficult journey we all search for inspiration. We try to find reassurance that there is a solid basis for the hope that is growing within us.

"For me, I found it in the faces and the laughter of all those people I've met on my visits to vaccination centres, because as disruptive as lonely as frustrating and as sad as the last year has been, we are getting through it, and a degree of normality is returning, the company of friends and relations is returning.

"Each and every one of us has an image of a moment that we're looking forward to enjoy when we get through this. Tonight, each and every one of us is closer to enjoying that moment than we have been for a very long time. Let's stick to the strategy. Stay safe, and continue to mind, each other."

REOPENING DETAILS

The Government has approved the plan that will allow people travel across the country from 10 May.

On the same day hairdressers will reopen, along with libraries, museums and galleries, and team sports training will also resume.

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

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

On 10 May also, three households 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.

On 17 May all shops will be able to reopen, and on 2 June hotels and guesthouses will be open again.

Outdoor hospitality, including restaurants and all pubs, will open on 7 June, along with gyms and swimming pools.

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

The Cabinet has also approved allowing essential workers to secure driving lessons from 10 May - to help clear the driving test backlog.

For months, essential workers could secure a test date, but not lessons, due to Covid-19 concerns over the confined space in a car.

The return of lessons for all learner drivers is likely to happen at a later date, when the vaccination programme is further advanced.

Meanwhile, this evening the Department of Health has been notified of the deaths of three further people with Covid-19, as well as an additional 474 confirmed cases.

It brings the total death toll in Ireland to 4,899, with the cumulative total of cases standing at 248,326.

Geographically, 167 cases were confirmed in Dublin, with 39 in Kildare, 37 in Cork, 36 in Donegal, 29 in Meath and the remaining 166 cases spread across all other counties.

As of 8am this morning, there were 155 people being treated for the virus in hospital, with 44 of these in ICU.

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