Home Europe Ireland ready for slow easing of lockdown measures, says PM Martin

Ireland ready for slow easing of lockdown measures, says PM Martin

by editor

DUBLIN — Ireland will take tentative steps out of a three-month lockdown after Easter but must beware of a potential fourth wave of infection, Prime Minister Micheál Martin told the nation Tuesday evening.

In a live televised address, Martin said pandemic advisers had warned against wider reopening on April 5, the date previously set by the government for reducing lockdown measures that have been in force since Christmas.

Instead, the government intends a slower relaxation that postpones many steps until May. This reflects, in part, Ireland’s failure to deliver on its vaccination target of 1.25 million inoculations by the end of March. Barely 800,000 have been delivered, largely because of a shortfall in supplies from AstraZeneca.

“We are on the final stretch of this terrible journey,” said Martin, who forecast that increased supplies from four vaccine makers in April would allow shops, libraries and museums to reopen in May, hotels and B&Bs in June.

“These vaccines are transformative and they are our way out,” he said. “The only thing holding us back is supply.”

Martin said starting April 12, all students will return to in-person classes, while 14,000 construction and nursery workers would be permitted to resume their work.

A rule restricting people to trips within 5 kilometers of their homes will also be broadened on April 12 to permit travel within people’s home counties or up to 20 kilometers into a neighboring county. Two households will be permitted to socialize together, but only outdoors.

Two weeks later, on April 26, golf, tennis and other outdoor sports venues will reopen. Zoos may reopen too. The maximum number of mourners at a funeral will increase from 10 to 25.

“By being safe now, we will enjoy much greater freedom in the summer,” Martin said.

His appeal for continued restraint came on the sunniest, warmest day of the year — amid signs that public patience was wearing out.

Investment manager Paul Sommerville said that he’d just walked along the coastline near Dublin and found it “absolutely packed, large groups everywhere. No masks, no social distancing.”

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