COVID-19: Republic of Ireland scraps almost all coronavirus restrictions

January 21, 2022

The Irish government has agreed to lift almost all coronavirus restrictions from tomorrow - in a move attributed to the passing of the peak of the Omicron wave, and the country's high vaccine uptake.

The landmark decision was announced by Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin in a televised address to the nation.

"Today is a good day," he said.

From this weekend, Irish pubs, restaurants and other hospitality outlets can return to normal operations, and customers will not be asked for their digital COVID pass.

Currently, a valid pass must be shown, and hospitality must close at 8pm.

The requirements for social distancing will also be dropped.

Spectator limits at outdoor and indoor events will be lifted.

Ireland hosts Wales in the opening match of the Six Nations in two weeks' time at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

That game, and Ireland's other home fixtures, will now have a capacity crowd of almost 52,000.

A full return to the workplace begins on a phased basis from Monday.

Some rules will continue, however. The requirement to wear face masks is being retained, until at least the end of February, and a digital COVID pass will still be required for international travel.

Self-isolation will remain in place for symptomatic people.

Ireland has now passed the peak of its fifth wave of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

With one of Europe's highest vaccine uptakes, and a stabilised hospitalisation rate, the National Public Health Emergency Team felt able to advise the government there was no longer a public health rationale to keep restrictions.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the government was "very, very conscious" of older and vulnerable people who had concerns about a full reopening, but said it was all about "finding a balance".

The minister said he expected an increase in case numbers in the weeks ahead, but added that the health system had proved it could handle it.

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