Ireland eases restrictions and unified plan for St. Patrick’s Day

DUBLIN – Ireland cleared the way for its first public celebration of St Patrick’s Day in two years when the prime minister, Michael Martin, announced on Friday that most Covid restrictions would end starting on Thursday. Seven.

“Spring is coming, and I don’t know if I’ve ever looked forward to a spring as much as this one,” Mr. Martin said. “Humans are social creatures, and we Irish are more social than most people. As we look forward to this spring, we need to meet again; we need to see each other laugh; we need to sing again. ”

The Minister for Culture, Tourism and the Arts, Catherine Martin, also confirmed that the national Saint Patrick’s Day festival will take place in March, after a two-year hiatus. The festival in 2020 was an early victim of the pandemic, only being canceled the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. And last year’s celebration was also cancelled.

The lifting of Covid restrictions will allow bars and restaurants to continue to open beyond 8 p.m., closing times have been prescribed in the run-up to the holiday season when Omicron cases soar.

Customers will not need to show proof of vaccinations or that they have had a recent infection. Nightclubs will be able to reopen and there will be no limit to the number of people who can attend events, such as weddings, concerts, sporting events or – as is customary in Ireland – funeral. Rules banning home visits between members of more than two households are also being scrapped.

“We should all take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come, appreciate the effort and sacrifice of those who put themselves in jeopardy to keep us safe. , to remember and appreciate the lives and contributions of those we have lost,” the prime minister said.

Ireland’s reports of daily new Covid cases have dropped. On Thursday, the country reported 5,523 new cases, down from a peak of 26,122 on January 8 during the current wave of Omicrons. Based on New York Times database, 78 percent of the Irish population is fully immunized.

Masks will remain required indoors in public spaces, such as in stores and on public transport, for at least another month. A negative Covid test is also still required for all incoming and outgoing international travel. These remaining measures will be reviewed by the end of February, when the government hopes to have more children aged 5 to 11 fully vaccinated.

“The pandemic is not over yet,” Mr. Martin said. “It will still require us all to be vigilant.”

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