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18/09/2021

EXPLAINER: What to expect from today's Covid-19 restrictions announcement?

EXPLAINER: What to expect from today's Covid-19 restrictions announcement?

Taoiseach Micheal Martin will address the nation this evening

Taoiseach Micheal Martin will once again address the nation this evening on the plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions over the next couple of months.

The Government has been this week finalising its plans to end most restrictions by the end of October with the Cabinet set to sign off on the new roadmap on Tuesday afternoon. The Taoiseach is scheduled to make his statement at approximately 6pm on Tuesday, August 31.

It is understood that most restrictions will be scrapped by October 22 under the plans with measures like social distancing and mask-wearing remaining in place into next year. The move to continue the easing of restrictions comes with renewed hope that the rate of the disease is slowing due to the continued vaccination rollout. It's expected that 90% of the current eligible population will be vaccinated in the coming weeks.

The live events industry remains the big talking point and while the Events Industry Association of Ireland was unhappy following their meeting with government on Monday, it appears there will be a slight easing. The EIA had called for a full return in terms of capacity to ensure the viability of the industry which contributed €3.5b a year to the overall economy.

It is understood that live indoor music, including at weddings, will also be permitted from September 6. It seems the government have resisted the calls of the EIA and indoor venue capacity for live events will be capped at 60% for fully vaccinated people. Outdoor events will be permitted to have a capacity of 75% of fully vaccinated people. 

Where attendees are mixed between vaccinated and unvaccinated, it is likely capacity will be further reduced. In all instances, vaccine certs will likely be used at the point of admission until the middle of October where the use of such digital certs is to be scrapped. 

From September 6, communions and confirmations will be allowed to resume, it is understood. Entertainment facilities like arcades, bowling alleys and indoor dance and performing arts classes are likely to resume from September 20. Night clubs may have to wait until October but a number of trial events may be held in September. 

Staggered closing times for various hospitality settings including pubs have been mooted. The current 11.30pm closing time will likely be scrapped during September.   

WORKING LIFE

For workers, Zoom may be replaced by the old commute with a phased return to offices from the middle of September. Minister for Public Expenditure has indicated the Wage Subsidy Scheme will remain in place for "quite some time" as businesses rebound. 

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