IRELANDS march out of lockdown will continue over the summer as fun finally returns to our lives in the coming months.
The Government tonight outlined the next steps on the path back to normality with pubs reopening indoors on July 5, international holidays back by July 19 and a series of ­concerts and sporting events to be held throughout the summer.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin addressed the nation tonight
Pubs will reopen indoor dining on July 5Credit: Alamy
But Taoiseach Micheal Martin admitted house parties may still be off the cards in August.
The latest Government predictions claim 60 per cent of adults will be fully vaccinated by the end of July, with the online registration portal opening for over-40s next week.
However, despite the jab campaign continuing at pace, Ministers are fearful of a Covid resurgence, with restrictions remaining in place for home visits and workers returning to offices throughout the summer.
And the Taoiseach tonight warned that continued progress is not inevitable as he cited the Indian variant as a cause for concern.
He told the nation: We are almost back to a point where we can just enjoy the ordinary, extraordinary moments in our lives.
The sense of hope, excitement and relief is palpable. But as we watch what is happening across the globe, we of course know that we must remain vigilant against this terrible virus.
We know there have been many twists and turns on this journey. I have talked many times about the strength that is found in solidarity and how managing the pandemic must be a collective effort.
This coming month could be the most important test of that spirit we have faced since this ordeal began.
The Fianna Fail leader also revealed that a major plan will be published next week that will outline the Governments plans to recover the economy from the Covid crash.
The latest tranche of reopening will start next month when hotels can welcome guests from June 2, ­followed by pubs and restaurants serving outdoor only on June 7.
Hotels will be allowed to serve meals inside when open and the Restaurants Association of Ireland has indicated they will take a legal challenge against the State due to the difference in reopening hotels and the rest of the hospitality sector.
However, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar tonight said pubs and restaurants can continue to get the Covid weekly support payment even if they open for outdoor services in June and will also get a one-off bullet payment to help them get back to business in July.
Cinemas, theatres and gyms will also be back in action from June 7, with limited crowds allowed to return to the sidelines for sporting events.
Cinemas and theatres will have to run with a max capacity of 50 people.
Some 200 people will be allowed to attend matches and events at venues with a capacity of more than 5,000 while 100 people can attend events in smaller venues.
Driver theory test centres will also reopen from June 7, with 120,000 people currently waiting to sit the exam. More people will also be allowed to sit their physical driving test.
The reopening will kick up a notch in July, with people finally able to enjoy a pint inside a pub or a meal in a restaurant from July 5.
However, pubs, restaurants and hotels will still have to ­follow safety guidelines such as social distancing and mask wearing. And a 105-minute time limit will apply when inside unless tables are 2m or more apart. No limits on time will apply when outdoors.
Publicans welcomed the reopening date being set in stone but Vintners Federation of Ireland boss Padraig Cribben called for the removal of the time limit by the time they are back serving indoors.
Ireland will effectively move to Level Two on the Governments five-stage reopening plan in July, with people able to welcome a maximum of six visitors from three households into their home.
This restriction will be increased further in August, however the ­Taoiseach tonight told the Irish Sun that house parties will likely be off the cards for the remainder of the summer.
Asked if they could be back by August, Martin told us: Seriously, house parties have been very ­problematic with many incidents in terms of the larger ones in terms of spreading the virus.
It is on a very phased basis so we dont envisage house parties, the kind I think youre talking about, any time soon.
Fine Gael leader Varadkar also said he expects the work-from-home rule to remain in place until ­September with the possibility that some workers could start to return to offices in August.
The numbers allowed at outdoor events will also increase from July 5, with up to 200 allowed to attend. This rises to 500 in venues that can hold more than 5,000 people.
And the number of people allowed to attend weddings will jump up gradually across the ­summer, from 25 in June to 50 in July and 100 in August.
June 2: Hotels to reopen.
June 7: All outdoor hospitality to reopen. Cinemas, theatres and gyms will also open again.
July 5: Indoor hospitality for pubs and restaurants allowed.
June 7: Maximum of 100 people can attend matches rising to 200 at venues that can accommodate 5,000 or more.
July 5: 200 allowed at matches or 500 where there is capacity of 5,000 or more.
August: Further increases in the numbers permitted at both indoor and outdoor events.
July 19: Non-essential international travel will resume.
June: 100 allowed at majority of organised outdoor events and 200 where theres 5,000 capacity.
July: Outdoor organised events to increase to a maximum of 500 attendees and 200 for indoors.
June 7: Number of guests at a wedding reception will rise to 25.
July: Number increases to 50.
August: 100 allowed to attend.
June 7: Unvaccinated household can have visitors from one other household inside.
July 5: You can have visitors from up to three other households inside your home.
August will be a big month for the return of live events with up to 500 people allowed to attend ­outdoor events or 5,000 in large venues such as stadiums.
International travel will finally return to Ireland in a big way from July 19 when non-essential trips are back on the cards.
A series of test events will be carried out in June and July in preparation for the return of live concerts and sporting events including a 3,500-attendee festival in the Phoenix Park on June 26, which the line-up has yet to be announced for.
A number of sporting events will also be used as pilots over the summer, including the camogie League Final in Croke Park on June 20 when 3,000 people will be allowed to attend.
A pilot event will also be held for horse racing, with 1,000 people due to attend a one-day meet at the Curragh at the end of June.
And some 400 people will get to attend Morton Stadium in Santry, Dublin on June 26 for the National Athletics Championships.
Tonight, 467 new Covid cases were confirmed but ICU numbers dropped to 38.
THE European Medicines Agency has approved the Pfizer jab for use in kids aged 12 to 15.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said it was very good news, with Ireland likely to start vaccinating kids later this year.
Irelands National Immunisation Advisory Committee will consider the EMAs decision before bringing their own advice to Government.
The EMA recommended the jab be used in the same manner as it has for the rest of the population, with two injections at least three weeks apart. The EMA decision was made on the back of a study with 2,000 children.