- 01 May 20
Fans of the Grand Old Club, aka Hot Press Munchengladbach 1891, had waited with bated breath for tonight's announcement from the Government about the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. However, amidst a detailed setting-out of the stages at which limitations on working arrangements and social activity of various kinds will be lifted, the small print says that the thousands who want to witness the Munchies in action will have to wait just a little bit longer...
Restrictions bedamned! Hot Press Munchengladbach 1891 are set to roar back into action on July 20, 2020. Readers may note that the date in question has a very special historical significance, being the first in the long and tragically embattled history of humankind to begin with the number two and contain three twos and three noughts!
This startling news – in what has been the Munchies' finest season this decade – follows a dramatic development tonight, with the Irish government setting out a so called 'road-map' on how Covid-19 restrictions will be eased, beginning properly on May 18. Between now and then, in most respects, the current restrictions will remain in place, though with a few small adjustments.
The plan is set out in five stages, with changes set to happen at intervals of three-weeks. The first changes will take place after the May bank holiday weekend, on Tuesday May 5. From that date on, people over 70 who are cocooning area advised that they can go outside their homes. However, there is a stipulation that they should avoid all contact with other people.
In addition, the 2km limit that has been in place for exercise is to be extended to 5km.
The ‘road-map’ will kick in on May 18 – though the decisions announced by the Government tonight will inevitably be revisited if there is any serious suggestion of a second wave of Cover-19 taking hold.
In its statement, the Government has observed that the risk of a second wave of the virus is ever present.
"As a country,” the statement said, "we can only move from one phase to the next if the virus stays under control between each phase."
The statement also confirmed that there will be what is called a 'long-term need' for physical distancing; for good hand hygiene; for respiratory hygiene; for regular cleaning; and for people to stay at home and isolate if they are sick.
Phase 1 (May 18)
• Outdoor workers – for example builders and gardeners – will be able to return to work.
Certain retail outlets – like garden centres, hardware stores, electrical stores, homewares and repair shops – will be allowed to reopen.
• Outdoor public sports amenities, for example football and rugby pitches, tennis courts and golf courses, will be reopened where social distancing can be maintained
• Some outdoor sporting activities, carried out in small groups with a maximum of four people, will be allowed.
• Outdoor 'public amenities' and tourism sites, in attendance at which people can be described as "non-stationary" and can maintain social distancing can open
• Restrictions on meeting with up to four friends and/or family from other households outdoors, will no longer apply, as long as strict social distancing is maintained.
Phase 2 (June 8)
• A gradual return to work will accelerate, with workers that can maintain a 2 metre distance from colleagues constantly being allowed to return to work
However, remote working will be required of all those who can do so
• Small retail outlets, that require only a small number of staff, will be allowed to reopen on the basis that strict control can be maintained on the number of individuals that staff and customers will interact with, at any one time
• Where social distancing can be maintained, livestock marts will be reopened
• The interim restrictions on where exercise can be taken will be extended from within 5 kilometres of your home to a radius of 20km
• There will be a requirement to introduce specific retail hours, across all retailers, for people who are cocooning. Visits to the homes of those who are cocooning will also be allowed, where they involve a small number of people for a short period of time. Those involved will be required to wear or use personal protective equipment and to observe social distancing
• Up to four people will be allowed to visit other households for what is called a "short period” but they will be required to maintain social distancing
• Public libraries will be reopened, but with limited numbers allowed on the premises at any given time
• People will be permitted to engage in outdoor sporting and fitness activities, that involve what is characterised as small group team sports training (but not
matches) – but only where social distancing can be maintained and where there is no contact. Crunching tackles will still not be allowed.
Phase 3 (June 29)
• Organisations where employees have "low levels of daily interaction with people”, and where social distancing can be maintained, will be allowed to reopen
• Crèches, childminders and preschools will reopen specifically for children of essential workers, in a phased manner. Again, social distancing and other requirements will continue to apply
• The opening of all other non-essential retail outlets will be phased in, on the basis of restrictions on the number of staff and customers per square metre. Again, the emphasis on maintaining social distancing is seen as essential
• However shopping centres will not be allowed to reopen, with the measure being limited to retail outlets with a street-level entrance and exit
• Playgrounds where social distancing and hygiene can be maintained can re-open
• “Behind closed doors" sporting activities and events where arrangements are in place to enable participants to maintain social distancing will be permitted
• Cafés and restaurants can re-open, to provide on-premises food and drink where they can comply with social distancing measures and strict cleaning is in operation
Phase 4 (July 20)
• The restrictions on higher-risk services like hairdressers and barbers that involve direct physical contact for periods of time between people and for which there is a population-wide demand will start to loosen.
• Travel outside of an individual’s own region will be allowed.
• The numbers of people who may visit another household for a short period of time while maintaining social distancing will be increased
• Small social gatherings will be allowed, involving family and close friends, but they must be limited to a maximum number of attendees and occur for a limited period of time only, during which social distancing can be maintained. Examples given include small weddings and ‘baptisms'
• Small social (non-family) gatherings will also be allowed, though there will be a requirement again to limit these to a maximum number of participants, and they must run for a limited period of time, during which social distancing must be maintained
• Crèches, childminders and preschools for children in general will be permoitted on what is described as "a gradually increasing phased basis" (for example one day per week) – slowly increasing thereafter
• Organisations where employees cannot work remotely will be considered first for return to onsite working arrangements
• The roadmap proposes that staggered hours might be operated to increase the number of workers available for work in any 24-hour period, as long as the number of workers interacting with each other can be limited
• Museums, art galleries, and other cultural outlets can reopen, where people are non-stationary, social distancing can be maintained and strict hand hygiene is applied on entry
• Religious and places of worship will be re-opened but only where social distancing can be maintained
• Sports team leagues (for example soccer and GAA) can resume, but only where limitations are placed on the numbers of spectators and where social distancing can be maintained
• Public swimming pools, where effective cleaning can be carried out and social distancing can be maintained will be allowed to reopen
• Hotels, hostels, caravan parks, holiday parks will be allowed to reopen for social and tourist activities, initially on a limited occupancy basis (or number of people per square metre) and then increasing over time (and where social distancing is complied with). Hotel bars will, however, remain closed
Phase 5 (August 10)
• This planned final stage will see the lifting of most of the day-to-day restrictions. However what are called "large social gatherings” – large weddings being given as an example – will not be allowed
• Pubs, bars, nightclubs and casinos, can be reopened, but only, it appears, where social distancing and strict cleaning can be complied with
• There will be a return to the normal visiting rules in hospitals, residential healthcare centres and other residential settings, including prisons
• Enclosed shopping centres, where social distancing can be maintained, will be allowed to reopen
• There will be a further loosening of restrictions on services involving direct physical contact for periods of time between people, for which there is not a population-wide demand (examples provided include tattooing and piercing)
• Theatres and cinemas will re-open, with the stipulation that social distancing must be maintained
• Sports that involves close physical contact, like rugby, boxing and wrestling (N.B. there is no mention of riding – Sub-ed) will resume
• Gyms, exercise, dance studios and sports clubs will be allowed to reopen, where regular and effective cleaning can be carried out and social distancing can be maintained
• Spectator sporting events which involve mass gatherings will be allowed resume in accordance with both indoor and outdoor numbers-restrictions, and where social distancing can be complied with
• Indoor recreational venues, such as roller skating rinks, bowling alleys and bingo halls, will be allowed to reopen, where numbers can be limited, cleaning can be maintained, restrictions where social distancing can be complied with
• Festivals, events and other social and cultural mass gatherings will be allowed to take place in accordance with both indoor and outdoor numbers and where social distancing can be complied with
• Schools and universities will return at the beginning of the 2020/2021 academic year