6 June 2020
By Elaine Murphy
The acceleration of the Government’s Phase 2 reopening plan has been made possible thanks in no small part to the huge efforts of the people of Cork, Fine Gael Deputy Colm Burke has said.
Deputy Colm Burke said: “My colleagues in Cabinet have agreed to implement all elements of Phase 2 and to bring forward the actions in the remaining phases.
“Under the reconfiguration of the Roadmap, there are now just two remaining phases instead of three, with Phase 3 starting on the 29th of June, and Phase 4 on the 20th of July.
“In the meantime, as we enter Phase 2 on Monday, our advice is to stay local. Avoid unnecessary travel. Please continue to work from home if possible. We are on the right path – let’s keep taking care of each other and our communities.
“The acceleration of the roadmap has been made possible thanks to the high level of compliance with social distancing and hygiene measures, and it’s vital that this continues to ensure that further progress can be made.
“Further work will be carried out in the coming days and weeks to determine which actions will take place in each phase. Some measures such as bans on mass gatherings may need to remain in place well into August as will public health advice around hygiene and physical distancing.
Deputy Colm Burke continued: “From Monday, the following changes will come into effect:
- You can travel within your own county, or up to 20 km from your home, whichever is greater. These travel limits will be lifted from the end of June.
- Groups of up to 6 people will be able to interact with each other indoors or outdoors, once they keep at least 2m apart. Groups of up to 15 will be able to meet for outdoor sporting activities.
- For those who are over 70 or medically vulnerable, it will be possible to welcome a small number of visitors into your home, with physical distancing observed.
- Shops will also provide dedicated hours for those who are over 70 or in an at risk group.
- All retail stores can reopen, but opening times will be staggered to relieve pressure on public transport.
- You are encouraged to shop locally, shop safely and support businesses in your community in Cork.
- Up to 25 people will be allowed to attend funerals of loved ones.
- Public libraries will commence re-opening.
- Playgrounds can reopen from Monday, and outdoor camps for children can also be run, once there are no more than 15 people involved.
- Certain types of elite sports training will also be possible.
- More people will be able to return to work, including all those who work on their own or whose work can be done safely while staying 2m apart from others. Working from home should remain the norm for those who can do so.
- Marts can re-open and greyhound racing can resume without spectators.
Deputy Colm Burke continued: “A new Summer Education Programme for children with special educational needs and disadvantage, will also commence, as the indications are that it is now safe to do so. The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe Mc Hugh, will bring proposals in this regard to Government next week.
“The focus of the programme will be on students and young people with complex needs – including those who live with significant behavioural, social, emotional and sensory difficulties. Children with Down Syndrome will be included as part of our plans for this summer.
“Shopping centres can re-open on June 15th provided only shops open and measures are taken to ensure people do not congregate at benches, fountains or food courts.
“It is hoped that in three weeks’ time we will be able to move to a more advanced Phase 3, which would include the reopening of domestic tourism in our country, and bring forward the opening of hotels, restaurants, bars that also operate as restaurants, hostels, caravan parks, galleries and museums to the 29th of June. It is anticipated that places of worship will also be able to reopen from this point.
“Social distancing measures will mean that capacity on public transport will remain very restricted, so people are encouraged to only use public transport for essential journeys, and wearing a face covering is recommended when doing so.”
Deputy Colm Burke concluded: “During this Emergency, the people of Cork have suffered, lost loved ones and changed the way they work and live. But thanks to your efforts we are making progress.”
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said: “As our country opens up and we start interacting more, personal responsibility becomes even more important than ever. We got into this fight against COVID-19 together, and we will only get out of it together.
“So, let me end with words of hope, ‘In the end, it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer.’
“Thanks to your hard-work, your choices, and your perseverance, that new day is approaching.”