Coronavirus restrictions in Ireland have been extended, with certain relaxations, from May 5 until May 18. From then, a phased approach to reopening the country will commence.

Update 3:20 pm EST: Following Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's live address today, the Irish government has published its roadmap to ease Covid 19 restrictions and reopen Ireland’s economy and society.

There are five phases in the Roadmap, which are set to be rolled out in three-week intervals, depending on the spread of coronavirus.

"Each phase consists of a menu of options will be considered by Government as it gradually opens up economic and social activities. Examples of the types of actions which will be considered under the various phases include:

Phase 1: 18th May

  • Allow outdoor meetings between people from different households
  • Open up childcare for healthcare workers
  • Phased return of outdoor workers
  • Open retailers which are primarily outdoor or those which were open during first level of restriction (e.g. opticians)
  • Opening of certain outdoor public amenities

Phase 2

  • Allow visits to households
  • Develop plans and supports to open up business with consideration for safety of staff and customers
  • Open small retail outlets and marts where social distancing can be observed
  • Open public libraries

Phase 3

  • Allow small social gatherings
  • Opening of crèches, childminders, and pre-schools for children of essential workers in phased manner
  • Return to work for those with low levels of interaction
  • Open non-essential retail outlets with street-level entrance and exit
  • Open playgrounds

Phase 4

  • Opening of crèches, childminders, and pre-schools for children of all other workers on a gradually increasing basis
  • Return to work for those who cannot work from home
  • Gradual easing of restrictions for higher risk services (e.g. Hairdressers)
  • Opening of museums, galleries, places of worship

Phase 5

  • Allow larger social gatherings
  • Return to work across all sectors
  • On a phased basis, commencing at the beginning of the academic year 2020/2021, opening of primary and secondary schools and 3rd level institutions
  • Further easing of restrictions on high risk retail services

Earlier: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in a live address today that Ireland’s current coronavirus restrictions will be extended until May 18, and beginning that day, the Irish government will launch a phased plan to reopen society and the economy.

Read More: Ireland extends its coronavirus restrictions through May 5

People in Ireland are currently under restrictions that were set to expire on Tuesday, May 5. While the restrictions are being extended until May 18, some aspects will be relaxed slightly from Tuesday.

Varadkar said in his address: “Our scientists and doctors tell us that if we relax the restrictions too soon, we could see within a matter of days our ICUs overcrowded, our care homes under renewed pressure, and our healthcare staff overwhelmed.

“Everything we’ve achieved would be lost. Our best chance at winning this battle would be swept away, and we could be back at square one.

“We must go on for a short time more.

He continued: “We have a plan to ease restrictions from May 18, but before that, we need two more weeks of tight restrictions to weaken the virus further so it doesn’t have the strength to make a comeback when we start to interact with each other again.”

From Tuesday, May 5, people in Ireland will be permitted to travel up to 5km from their homes, an increase from 2km, for the purpose of exercise.

People who have been subject to cocooning will also be permitted to travel up to 5km from their homes beginning Tuesday, but they must avoid contact with other people.

Read More: Checkpoints to be relaunched across Ireland ahead of holiday weekend

Varadkar then began to outline the roadmap to reopen Ireland: “Our plan is to re-open the country in a slow, staged, phased way.

“Five stages, three weeks apart starting on May 18th and, all things going to plan, with the 5th phase commencing on August 10th.

“Unfortunately, the risk of a second wave of the virus is ever present. So we can only move from one phase to the next if the virus stays under control between each phase. And there is a risk that we’d have to go back a phase if that happens.

“In any scenario, at least until we have a vaccine or effective treatment, there will be a long-term need for physical distancing, good hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, regular cleaning and for people to stay at home and isolate if they are sick.

“It will take some time for our lives to get back to normal. To a new normal. But it will happen.

“So, on the 18th of May, Ireland begins to re-open and begins that journey to a new normal.

Varadkar said that from May 18, outdoor work, such as construction and landscaping, will resume. Some retail outlets will reopen, and some outdoor and fitness activities in small groups will be permitted from that date. Many regular health services will resume operating from May 18 as well.

“And it will be possible to meet small groups of friends and family outdoors,” said Varadkar of May 18.

Workplaces, businesses, childcare, pre-schools, restaurants, cafes and bars, cinemas, and gyms will re-open during later phases.

Varadkar said that schools and colleges will not reopen until September or October.

Varadkar concluded his address by saying: “Tonight there is hope. In the weeks ahead, that hope will drive us forward as we plan to emerge safely from this crisis.”

You can watch Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s entire address from Friday, May 1 here:

Read More: Coronavirus live updates: Ireland begins to gradually reopen from May 18