DUBLIN, IRELAND: The government of Ireland has announced plans to reopen all retail stores in May, and hotels, restaurants and bars in June.
The announcement was made on April 29.
Earlier, the government had said it hoped to begin opening the Irish economy if there was no fourth wave of COVID-19 and if it could speed up its vaccine program.
"As disruptive, as lonely, as frustrating and as sad as the last year has been, we are getting through it and a degree of normality is returning. ... Hope is returning," Taoiseach Micheal Martin said in a televised speech.
According to the government, hotels will be allowed to reopen on June 2, while restaurants and bars will begin serving customers again on June 7. Initially, however, food and drink will only be served outdoors.
The government expects to issue a decision on allowing indoor services at restaurants and pubs, as well as large gatherings, at the end of June.
Further, offices throughout Ireland are not expected to reopen until September.
Even though Ireland has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in Europe, it is opening its economy at a rate that is slower than other countries. This cautious approach follows a surge in infections that occurred in Ireland following a relaxation of restrictions in December.
Meanwhile, in parliament Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said some 15,000 businesses could reopen in May, employing 200,000 people.
While Ireland has among the most restrictive rules for foreigners arriving in the country among all European Union nations, Varadkar said a phased return to international arrivals will begin this summer and a plan should be made public by the end of May.