A look back at the timeline of COVID-19 and restrictions in Ireland thus far, and an overview of the phased, five-stage exit plan over the next three months. The easing of restrictions will happen in five phases, each three weeks apart, starting on 18 May with an end date of 10 August.
COVID-19 in Ireland
29th February Sees the first the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the east of Ireland.
9th March There are 36 cases on the island of Ireland. On the advice of health officials the Government cancels all St. Patrick’s Day parades.
11th March The World Health Organisation declares Covid-19 a pandemic. This day also sees the first Covid-19 related death in Ireland.
15th March Pubs are to remain closed from the 15th to the 29th March.
17th March The Taoiseach, speaking from the US informs the public that the emergency period is likely to extend longer than to 29th March 2020, as previously expected.
24th March The emergency measures are extended until the 19th April, with the Taoiseach also asking people to stay at home unless it was not possible for them to them to work from home.
25th March New test rules were put into place meaning people would have to fall into a priority group after showing two symptoms to be tested, this change also came with a warning from the Chief Medical Officer, Tony Holohan that people should still stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days if they show any symptoms.
28th March The stay at home order comes into effect to the 12th April, the order restricts people’s movements to within two kilometres from their homes with the exception of essential workers, with excercusions limited to buy food or medicine.
12th March The first major restrictions are put in place
- Schools, colleges and childcare facilities are closed until 29th March 2020.
- Indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people are cancelled.
29th March The Irish Government signs a €208 million deal for personal protective equipment (PPE), the flight landed in Ireland on the controversy has surrounded this deal due to the quality of PPE provided, some of which has been reported to have been unsuitable for use.
30th March The Government enters into another agreement, this time with the Private Hospital Association. This agreement increased overall hospital capacity by 17%, this includes 11,000 inpatient beds, 47 intensive care unit beds and 54 high dependency beds.
30th March Concerns are raised about the increasing numbers of clusters of cases on the island with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) reporting 111 clusters of infections, 22 of which are in nursing homes and 19 clusters in hospitals. As a result of the figures released by the HPSC it was recommended that Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) conduct a risk assessment to ensure supports were given to those who needed it the most. This eventually leads to an agreement on the 15th April between the HSE and the trade unions representing HSE staff, this agreement will allow for staff to be temporally relocated to private nursing homes, on a voluntary basis.
15th April Sees what has been the reported youngest Covid-19 related death in Ireland, that of a 23 year old. This day also sees the return of the first backlog of tests from a lab in Germany, which brought the total number of cases for the day to 1068.
18th April The stay at home measures are to continue until the 5th May 2020. Reports are that the curve has been flattened and no peak is going to occur.
1st May The Government are due to sign off on a long term plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions. It is reported that any lifting of restrictions that will occur after the 5th May will be gradually, on a phased basis, and will most likely focus on allowing the elderly who are cocooning to leave their homes on a no touch basis. The National Public Health Emergency Team is due to give the recommendations to the Government, it is expected they will ask for the expansion of testing criteria which will see the removal of the need to be a priority category. This will allow for anyone showing symptoms such as a cough, fever or shortness of breath to be tested.
Five Stage Exit Plan
The current restrictions are continue until the 18th May, at which time the Government’s five stage roadmap will apply.
The beginning of each phase will depend on the success of the previous phase.
18 May to 8 June 2020 Phase One will see outdoor workers return to work as well as some outdoor public sport amenities and non-stationary public amenities and tourism sites. The meeting of family and friends will be permitted up to four friends once social distancing guidelines can be abided by.
8 June to 29 June Phase Two is scheduled to begin on 8th June which will allow workers to return to work where social distancing can be ensured. Those who can avail of working from home are to continue to do so. Exercise restrictions are to be extended to 20km. Small retails will be allowed to open if they can control the number of customers entering at any one time.
29 June to 20 July Phase Three is scheduled to begin on 29 June will see crèches, childminders and preschools to open for the children of essential workers. Retailers not located in shopping centres may open. Cafes and restaurants may open where social distancing can be maintained and strict cleaning operations are put in time. Limited behind closed doors parting events may take place.
20 July to 10 August Phase Four is scheduled to begin on 20th July. Restrictions will be loosened on higher-risk services such as hairdressers. Crèches, childminders and preschools will begin to open again on a gradual basis. Small social gathering will be allowed, the specific numbers of which have not been released. This stage will also see hotels reopen with reduced capacity.
10 August The Fifth Phase is to begin on 10th August, at which time more restrictions will be lifted with the exception of large social gatherings.