COVID-19 UPDATE: No new cases in Waterford as Government unveils plan to ‘reopen Ireland’
There has been no new cases of coronavirus recorded in Ireland over the past 24 hours, with the figure remaining relatively low at 137.
The welcome news comes as ministers meet today to approve a plan to gradually re-open Ireland.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (HPHET) will make a recommendation to the Cabinet on what Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called a “road map to reopen Ireland”. The Government will also announce an overall package of supports to go in tandem with the easing of restrictions.
Mr Varadkar said easing restrictions would depend on the progress of Covid-19, along with healthcare capacity and resilience, testing and contact-tracing capacity, the ability to shield at risk groups and the risk of secondary morbidity.
It is expected that the existing restrictions will largely remain in place for a number of weeks, expected to be a fortnight, past their initial May 5 expiry date.
The initial stages of the plan envisage allowing the over-70s out for a walk on a “no-contact” basis, with some reports this morning suggesting others may be asked to stay at home while “cocooners” are out.
It is understood that detailed guidance will be given for workplaces in areas such as social distancing and cleaning protocols, as well as around canteens and other gathering places.
Office workers will be encouraged to work from home, and flexible working hours will also be encouraged when offices return to avoid overcrowding on public transport.
Builders hope to restart the construction industry by picking up work in almost complete sites, before moving to outdoor work on sites such as housing estates and then moving to new estates.
Businesses and manufacturing are expected to open in the early stages of the plan if they adhere to social distancing and health rules.
The Health and Safety Authority and environmental protection officers from councils are understood to be tasked with ensuring such requirements are met.
Business Minister Business Heather Humphreys yesterday told the Dáil all businesses must adhere to the guidelines when they re-open. She said they would be backed up “through inspections and enforcement using the full suite of resources available across the State”.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said gardai are planning an “extensive” operation this bank holiday weekend to ensure the public comply with travel restrictions.