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Dublin orders first phase to ease Covid-19 lockdown

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Howth Golf Club pro Alan O’Sullivan with new signage as shutdown is eased

Howth Golf Club pro Alan O’Sullivan with new signage as shutdown is eased

AFP via Getty Images

Howth Golf Club pro Alan O’Sullivan with new signage as shutdown is eased

Groups of four people in the Republic living within a 5km radius of each other will be permitted to meet up outside once a day from Monday.

Those meeting up will be required to adhere to social distancing guidelines and stay two metres from those they are with.

People will also be told not to take advantage of the easing of restrictions and warned they can only meet up with small groups of friends and relatives once a day.

The Republic's National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) yesterday agreed to move into phase one of the plan to reopen the country.

After the Cabinet signs off on the Nphet recommendation, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will this afternoon announce the first significant easing of lockdown.

One of the key changes to the rules will be the lifting of the ban on meeting people from outside your own household. Small groups will be allowed to meet outside once a day. They will also be permitted to play golf and tennis.

It is also expected that outdoor workers such as those in construction and landscaping will be able to return to work while applying social distancing measures from next week.

The government will stress that this is strictly limited to outside workers, and anyone working inside on construction sites will not be returning to work.

Hardware stores, garden centres, farmers' markets and other shops that are primarily outdoors are also due to reopen under the road map.

Also reopening are homeware shops, opticians, garages, bicycle shops and stores that sell office products, electoral goods, IT and phones.

The government will also announce new advice on wearing homemade face coverings on public transport and while going shopping.

Yesterday the Taoiseach told the Dail he was "increasingly confident" that he would be able to begin lifting restrictions on Monday as the rate of new infections and Covid-19 deaths has continued to drop.

"All things going to plan, phase one will begin on Monday, if and only if it is safe to do so," he said.

The Taoiseach and Health Minister Simon Harris will outline how restrictions will be lifted between 3pm and 4pm this afternoon.

They will urge people to stay at home as much as possible, while also announcing limited scenarios where they can meet friends and family or go shopping. Workers will be urged to take significant precautions if returning to work.

Meanwhile, gardai will begin contingency planning later today for their role in what could potentially be a logistical nightmare in the implementation of phase one of lifting the Covid-19 lockdown.

They are awaiting specific instructions from the government spelling out in detail what the partial removal of current restrictions means from midnight on Monday before completing their preparations.

The decision will result in thousands of additional people taking to the roads as they return to work and the huge increase in public movement will put pressure on existing Garda checkpoint operations.

Officers do not know yet whether they will be tasked with policing the big rise in numbers travelling on public transport to work to ensure social distancing measures are being obeyed.

Belfast Telegraph