Businesses that have reopened ahead of the Government’s planned roadmap risk slowing down the progress the country has made, it has been warned.
It comes following concerns that a number of businesses that were not scheduled to open for another number of weeks, have already resumed business.
Senior Government official Liz Canavan said she understood the temptation to reopen, however she warned that even if businesses are applying Government-enforced return to work safety protocols, they cannot open.
“This is phase one – it’s a small step. The concern is not just around the safety of particular settings, it’s also about the volume of people moving about,” she said.
“Those businesses who say they can open safely or see a loophole in the health regulations are not respecting the spirit of the approach that is set out in the roadmap.
“They risk slowing down the progress for everyone else.
“So I am appealing to businesses to take the responsible approach.”
As part of the easing of restrictions, people are able to meet up in groups of four in outdoor settings while adhering to social distancing rules.
Ms Canavan said that while the weather is good, people are taking advantage of these relaxed rules.
“Nevertheless, we can’t relax and have to remember this is only phase one,” she continued.
“The five kilometre rule still applies if you’re meeting up with people as it does to exercise and journeys to public amenities.
“Social distancing rules still apply. We have a responsibility to one another not to make unnecessary visits to the homes of our families and friends just yet, or to have playdates or barbecues that don’t abide by these rules.
“I know the restrictions have been in place for what seems like a very long time, and the fine weather makes it even more difficult and I know, yet again we are asking you to be more patient.
“Everyone knows that slow and steady will win the race so we just have to hold firm.
“For people who live within 5km of water, the form of exercise they choose may involve swimming or other water-based activities.
“We have had a lot of people congregating in certain areas. To be fair to everyone, you should try to limit your time in these locations.
“Do your exercise and go.”
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach said he would like to be able to accelerate the reopening of the country, but said it is “too soon” to make the call.
Leo Varadkar said the public’s actions have worked as Ireland is reporting a very small number of new Covid-19 cases every day.
“We just need to monitor the situation now over the next two weeks.
“We have the plan, which everyone’s familiar with at this stage,” he told the Newstalk Breakfast radio show.
“I’d like to be in the situation where we can accelerate the opening of the country, but it’s far too soon to make that call because we still don’t know what the impact is of these restrictions (being removed) that happened this Monday.
“We won’t know that really until the first week of June, before we can make any call on moving to phase two, or even perhaps bringing forward some of the relaxations, we’ll need see that data first.
Mr Varadkar also denied suggestions the current economic crisis is worse than the last financial crash.
He said that some sectors will bounce back quite quickly like construction and retail.
He warned, however, sectors including hospitality, tourism, travel, leisure and entertainment will struggle.
He added: “That’s the sector that was hit first and worst, and will be affected for the longest and therefore it’s going to be one of the sectors that’s going to need the maximum amount of assistance and support.
“Not just this year but in the medium term.”
The coronavirus death toll in Ireland rose to 1,571 on Wednesday after a further 11 deaths were announced.
There were 64 new confirmed cases of the infection, bringing the total since the outbreak began in Ireland to 24,315.
It was the fifth day in a row that the daily tally has been below 100.