Ireland to lift (almost) all COVID-19 restrictions tomorrow

St Colman's Cathedral, as seen from the promenade in the town of Cobh.
Ireland is scrapping almost all COVID-19 restrictions © Getty Images

Ireland is getting rid of almost all remaining COVID-19 restrictions as infection rates decline across the country. As of Saturday, January 22, COVID passes will no longer be required to enter restaurants and bars, nightclubs will reopen, and late-night entertainment venues can return to normal operating hours.

Following recommendations from Ireland's National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), the government is rolling back most of its COVID-19 restrictions from 6am tomorrow. Face masks will remain in indoor public spaces and on public transport, and COVID certs for travel will still be required. However, most other restrictions will end.

The announcement is expected to be formally announced by the government later today.

The plan, which the Irish Times says "is the most radical restructuring of COVID restraints since the start of the pandemic", will be a boost to the hard-hit hospitality and entertainment industries, that have remained closed or operating at reduced capacity and opening hours throughout most of the pandemic. 

Even though infection rates remain at historically high levels, Ireland is one of the most vaccinated countries in Europe and health authorities are recording fewer COVID-19 patients in hospitals than in previous surges as cases decline from the peak. 

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What's changing in Ireland?

As of Saturday, January 22, social distancing guidelines will be lifted. COVID certs for entry to restaurants, bars and museums will no longer be required. Late-night entertainment venues including theaters, cinemas and bars no longer have to operate at reduced hours, and live events and sporting stadiums can return to full capacity. Nightclubs, which closed in October, are also permitted to reopen. A phased return to offices and workplaces will begin next week.

In fact, almost all COVID restrictions will be lifted. People still need to wear face masks on public transport and in indoor public spaces like shops, and COVID certs are required for travel. People with COVID symptoms are still required to self-isolate and test.

What are Ireland's rules for travel?

Despite the easing of domestic restrictions, arrivals in Ireland still need to present their EU Digital COVID certs that shows they are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.

Travelers who are not signed up to the EU digital COVID cert scheme, including Americans, Australians, and Canadians, can show their official vaccination or recovery certificates. UK travelers can show their NHS passes. Passengers who are not fully vaccinated will need to show a lab-produced negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. Children under the age of 11 are exempt.

This article was first published on November 30, 2021 and updated on January 21, 2022

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