Taoiseach Micheál Martin has today, August 31, outlined the gradual rolling back of Ireland’s remaining COVID restrictions.
The Taoiseach put a strong emphasis on the success of Ireland's vaccination programme in his live address to the nation this evening, August 31.
“We managed to protect a greater proportion of our people than most other countries," the Taoiseach said. "The evidence is clear, your effort and your sacrifice have saved lives."
The Taoiseach said that as of Tuesday morning, close to 90 percent of all citizens over the age of 18 in Ireland have been fully vaccinated and that the rate of vaccine uptake in the population younger than 18 is "hugely encouraging."
"The entire vaccination team, operating in every corner of our country, deserves the nation's pride and thanks," the Taoiseach said.
"Because of the effort of our vaccination team, and because you have stepped up to the mark and taken the vaccine when it was offered, we are now entering a whole new phase of the pandemic."
The Taoiseach acknowledged that "we are very unlikely to ever be rid of this virus completely. Indeed, we expect to see an increase in case numbers over the coming weeks. But the combined strategy of careful reopening and energetic vaccination has brought us to a point where we can do things differently."
After consulting closely with public health officials, the Government has decided "the time is now right to begin the move from regulation and widespread restrictions on people's personal freedom, to an approach primarily defined by public health advice, personal behavior, and judgment and responsibility."
The Taoiseach said "we will move quickly to respond" if a new variant of concern emerges or if the hospital system comes under "unsustainable pressure again."
The following information was published today, August 31, by Ireland’s Department of the Taoiseach:
From September 1
- Public transport will return to 100% capacity.
From September 6 (Subject to continued protective factors and sectoral guidance)
Organised indoor events and mass gatherings
- Organised indoor events and mass gatherings* can take place with capacity limits of 60% of venue capacity where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months), or accompanied minors (under 18), in line with sectoral guidance.
- Where patrons have mixed immunity status, there will be no change to the current restrictions during September.
- *Indoor events and mass gatherings includes conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions and large-scale business events involving external audiences, and bingo venues.
- For indoor live music, drama, live entertainment, and sporting events, the audience/spectators should be fully seated. Easing of capacity limit restrictions does not apply to large privately organised social events.
- Live music may commence having regard to appropriate protective factors.
Cinemas and theatres
- Cinemas and theatres will have capacity limits of 60% of venue capacity where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months), or accompanied minors (under 18), in line with sectoral guidance.
- Where patrons have mixed immunity status, there will be no change to the current limits (50 patrons) during September.
- There will be no change to the current limits (100 guests) during September.
- Live music at weddings will be permitted.
Organised outdoor events and mass gatherings
- Organised outdoor events and mass gatherings can take place with capacity limits of 75% of venue capacity where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months), or accompanied minors (under 18), in line with sectoral guidance.
- Where patrons have mixed immunity status, the capacity limit will be 50%, subject to appropriate protective measures including social distancing between groups and face masks.
- All religious ceremonies can proceed with 50% of venue capacity, regardless of immunity status of attendees.
- Coach tour activity can recommence at 50% capacity with protective measures.
From September 20
Organised indoor group activities
- Organised indoor group activities (sports, arts, culture, dance classes) can take place with capacity limits of 100 people (with appropriate protective measures) where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months), or accompanied minors (under 18).
- Where patrons have mixed immunity status, pods of up to 6 participants will be permitted (excluding adult leaders/teachers).
- Multiple pods will be permissible subject to protective measures.
- Number of pods will have regard to the size of venue and substantial social distance between individual pods.
Organised outdoor group activities
- Restrictions on outdoor group activities for participants will be removed.
- Note, where applicable, spectator attendance will remain in line with regulations for events.
Return to workplaces
- Attendance at work for specific business requirements may commence on a phased and staggered attendance basis from September 20.
Public health measures that will come into place in October
This phase will see the majority of restrictions lifted and replaced by guidance and advice to enable us to work together to protect ourselves and to live our lives to the fullest extent possible.
We will need to continue to monitor the ongoing risk from the disease and take steps individually and collectively in our everyday lives to keep this risk under control.
From October 22nd onwards, final restrictions will be lifted including:
- requirements for physical distancing
- requirements for mask-wearing outdoors and in indoor private settings
- limits on numbers at indoor and outdoor events and activities
- restrictions on religious or civil ceremonies
- limits on numbers that can meet in private homes/gardens
- certification of vaccination, immunity, or testing as a prerequisite for access to, or engagement in, any activities or events (with exception of international travel)
- restrictions on high-risk activities (nightclubs for example)
Measures that will remain in place include:
- self-isolation when we have symptoms
- mask-wearing in healthcare settings, indoor retail, and on public transport