Ireland will allow shops, restaurants, gyms and pubs serving food to reopen next week and permit travel between counties from 18 December, to facilitate a ‘different but special’ Christmas, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said.
Ireland became one of first European countries to reimpose tough Covid-19 constraints six weeks ago when the government shut non-essential retail and limited pubs and restaurants to takeaway service under its highest level of restrictions.
From 1 December, however, the economy will begin to be one of the most open across Europe after a sharp cut in the 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 people to below 100, behind only Finland and Iceland across the continent.
“We now have the opportunity to enjoy a different, but special Christmas. We can be with our loved ones and remember those we’ve lost. We will come through this together,” he said in a televised address.
Martin made his announcement the day the entire hospitality sector and non-essential retail in British-run Northern Ireland closed for two weeks, potentially leading to a rush of cross-border Christmas shopping.
People can welcome up to two other households into their homes between 18 December and 6 January.