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Coronavirus: Irish government to relax some restrictions

Handout photo of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the steps of Government Buildings Dublin, addressing the public on the state of the coronavirus lockdown in Ireland on 1 May

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Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA Wire

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made the announcement in an address to the nation on Friday evening.

The Irish government has signalled an easing of lockdown restrictions from Tuesday.

People who are over 70 and currently cocooning can leave their homes as long as they avoid contact with others.

The 2km exercise limit currently in place for the Irish population will be extended to 5km.

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar also announced a five-stage road map from 18 May, which would “reopen the country in a slow, phased way”.

In a live televised address to the nation on Friday evening, the taoiseach said the virus had “transformed our lives in ways that we could not have imagined”.

Two-to-four week cycles

He said the current restrictions had to be extended until 18 May but with some loosening of the measures.

The road map after that will be set out in five phases but will not have specific dates, he said.

The process will work on two-to-four week cycles monitored throughout, with each stage dependent on the success of the previous one.

In the first phase, people such as construction workers, gardeners and repair workers will be able to return to work from 18 May.

At later stages, workers in the hospitality sector will be allowed to return to work.

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Harry Murphy

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Current restrictions will be extended until 18 May but with some loosening of the measures

Schools and colleges will reopen at the start of the academic year, and small groups of friends and families will be permitted again to meet outdoors.

However, he stressed the need for caution as “the risk of a second phase of the virus is ever present”.

“If we relax the restrictions too soon, we could see our ICU overcrowded,” he said.

“Everything we achieved would be lost, so we must go on a short time more.”

‘Grieve together’

Mr Varadkar also spoke of the pain of the families unable to properly grieve for those who had lost their lives in recent weeks.

“When we come through this, we will come together as a nation and grieve together for everyone who has died over the course of this emergency,” he said.

He said people had met the crisis with “remarkable courage and sense of solidarity”.

Mr Varadkar urged the public to “stay the course” and “continue the fight”.

On Friday, the Republic of Ireland recorded 34 more coronavirus-related deaths, taking its total to 1,265.

There were also 221 more cases diagnosed in the Republic, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 20,833.

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