EXPLAINER: What's expected in the Taoiseach's Covid-19 address on Thursday?
The Taoiseach will address the nation on Covid-19 restrictions again on Thursday with a further easing expected to be announced.
A Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 will discuss the possible restrictions against the backdrop of NPHET describing our Covid-19 situation as "fragile" and expressing concern over any increase in close contacts.
Despite not being officially announced, the announcement to be made on Thursday has been largely leaked with the return of hairdressers and other personal services, as well as a full return for the construction sector, the big-ticket reopenings expected in May.
The Taoiseach has also said he will give "clarity" on the likely course of restrictions in June and July with restriction fatigue taking effect across the country, especially with regard to intercounty travel which may not happen until the end of June or July. Currently, people are only permitted to travel within their own counties with the exception of travel for essential reasons.
Returning to May, we know that the government is planning a phased return of non-essential retail in May with specific dates likely to be announced on Thursday.
After a number of months of controversy, it would appear masses and other religious services will return in May with some limits on congregations and social distancing measures in place. Adult sports training will recommence following the return of underage training earlier this month.
It's thought that libraries could re-open with numbers of those attending the service, with similar arrangements likely for museums and galleries.
The word 'staycation' will once again enter the fray but will likely be put on ice until June when the focus turns to hospitality, including hotels, B&Bs, guest houses, self-catering and mobile homes. It could be the end of June before we can travel the country to enjoy these amenities.
Clarity may also be given on the reopening of pubs and restaurants with Fianna Fail TDs said to be pushing for an end to the wet and dry pub debacle of last year. They want all pubs and restaurants to reopen for outdoor use at the same time.
The Taoiseach could also give clarity to the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and whether or not those fully vaccinated will be afforded more freedoms as the summer progresses. More than one million people in Ireland have now received a first dose of a Covid vaccine.
The Taoiseach will also point out that the easing of restrictions is as always dependent on the path of the virus and the daily numbers contracting the virus and/or being hospitalised as a result.
Ireland's five-day average of daily cases is now 437, an increase on the 380 recorded last week. 426 new cases were confirmed throughout the country on Tuesday evening. There are still 153 people in hospital with Covid-19, 47 in ICU.
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