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Exemptions from the level 5 restrictions in Ireland may take place in three phases

DUBLIN: Indications are that the country’s exit from the Level 5 restrictions will be in three stages. These are expected to be announced in December. Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced at a cabinet meeting that he intends to move to Level 3 restrictions next week. But there was no detailed discussion on this. It is learned that the ministers decided to give their views to their party leaders before another meeting later this week.

The government is awaiting final NPHET recommendations on granting exemptions from Level 5. An official announcement will be made after that. It also plans to tighten restrictions again in January to prevent the virus from spreading ahead of the release of a vaccine in the New Year. NPHET is expected to provide guidance later this week.

Expected exemptions

In the first phase, non-essential retail shops will open next week, along with hairdressers, barber shops and gyms. Outdoor sports such as golf and tennis are also expected to be allowed. The five-kilometer travel restriction will be lifted. Instead, people may be allowed to travel within their own county. Travel to other counties for non-essential reasons will continue to be banned. The ban on household visits may not be lifted next week and is expected to continue until the end of December.

The second phase of concessions in December is expected to include the opening of restaurants and bars. However, discussions about this are ongoing. There may also be new measures for restaurants to ensure that pubs are legitimately serving food. Pubs are being considered for operational kitchens under the new rules.

The third phase of concessions will include home visits along with inter-county travel. According to government sources, people will be allowed to return home and see their families on Christmas Day. NPHET is expected to provide guidance on how to ensure a safe Christmas gathering. There are also signs that there will be no limits on how many people can congregate in a house.

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