The Government has signed off on a full reopening of the hospitality sector, following advice from NPHET that the current restrictions are no longer necessary.
The restrictions will be lifted in full as of 6am Saturday 22nd January. Current capacity limits on indoor and outdoor evenings (including pubs, restaurants, sports fixtures, and live music), will be removed. In an unexpected move, nightclubs are also set for a return on the same date.
Physical distancing recommendations are also being removed, as is guidance regarding household visits. A phased return to offices plan will begin on Monday 24th January.
However, mask wearing, COVID certs for international travel, and isolation rules for symptomatic people will remain in place.
On Thursday night, NPHET gave the green light for almost all restrictions to be lifted, including the 8pm hospitality curfew. The requirement for a COVID pass to enter hospitality premises has also been recommended to be lifted.
The recommendations were sent in a letter from Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan sent to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. In it, the CMO said there was no longer a public health rationale for the majority of restrictions currently in place.
In response, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that once the public health rationale for restrictions are removed “there’s no political rationale either”.
Reacting to the news, Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), said: “This is a monumental day for all of hospitality. Overall the feelings of joy, relief and excitement are permeating throughout the sector. We are delighted this has all happened so quickly, the speed with which things have progressed this week has been amazing.
“We would like to see the Government maintain the supports they have been providing for the coming months. We are also seeking the waiving of the upfront Special Exemption Order fees required for late night venues during their initial period of reopening.