Addressing the nation following the recommendation to lift the restrictions from the National Public Health Emergency Team, Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheál Martin declared it’s time for the Irish to “be ourselves again.”
This makes Ireland the second country following England to remove mandatory vaccine passports after they were implemented.
But the mask mandate, self-isolation rules, and protective measures in schools will remain, and Martin “strongly encourage[d]” people to get themselves and their children vaccinated.
After a Cabinet meeting on Friday afternoon, Martin said the Coalition government agreed to lift most of the restrictions the next day.
“Humans are social beings and we Irish are more social than most. As we look forward to this spring, we need to see each other again. We need to see each other smile. We need to sing again,” he said.
“As we navigate this new phase of COVID, it is time to be ourselves again.”
The Taoiseach said people’s trust in the government is a “precious and powerful,” yet “fragile” thing that requires “confidence that the government will do what is needed in an emergency,” as well as knowing “their government will not impose restrictions on their personal freedoms for any longer than is necessary.”
From 6 a.m. on Saturday, COVID certificates, which are currently required as proof of vaccination or recovery to access indoor hospitality venues, cinemas, theatres, gyms, and leisure centres, will be scrapped.
Premises will no longer have to manage people’s movements, group sizes, and distances, and the 8 p.m. curfew for hospitality businesses and indoor events will be lifted.
Restrictions on private indoor meetings (up to four families) and capacity limits for events and weddings will also be removed.
However, mask-wearing will still be required on public transport for those aged 9 and over, in schools for children in third class and above, and in most indoor public spaces for those aged 13 and over, unless food and drinks are being consumed.
The testing and isolation guidance for people with CCP virus symptoms, positive cases, and their contacts remain the same.
The mask mandate and testing and isolation guidance will be reviewed in mid-February, by which time Martin estimates children aged between 5 and 11 “will have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.”
In Ireland, all over-16s have been offered a booster dose of a CCP virus vaccine, and children aged between 5 and 15 have been offered one dose.
The rules on international travels also remain unchanged, with all arrivals required to show proof of vaccination, recovery, or negative PCR test results.
The Taoiseach went on to say that “a number of key supports particularly the employment wage subsidy scheme” will be extended to support the recovery of society.