IRELAND has returned to the frenzy as virtually all Covid restrictions have been lifted today – allowing pubs, restaurants and clubs to return to normal operations.
Businesses expressed their joy and optimism after NPHET and the Government finally let the sector go – and the public predicted Bank Week in March to become “a mini-festival” or “freedom party”.
Taoiseach Michael Martin announced yesterday that the majority of all Covid-19 measures will cease from 6 a.m this morning after getting the green light from public health experts earlier in the week.
The only rules that still apply are wearing a mask, isolating yourself after testing positive for the virus, and using a Covid card for international travel.
But pubs and nightclubs have advocated a return to normal operations with late opening hours, bar service, no contact tracing and no social distancing – and demands for Coronavirus The certificate to gain access to the hotel has also been removed.
And Noel Anderson, chief executive of two popular Dublin bars, Lemon & Duke and Bridge 1859, told the Irish Sun on Sunday that the city center was “busy” as bar finally won.
He said: “One of the first things I saw this morning when I walked into The Bridge were two people sitting at the counter – one with a Guinness record and the other drinking tea.
“And I just thought to myself, ‘God, that’s nice to see,’ because I haven’t seen that in almost two years.
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“There were crowds of people coming to watch rugby, the city center was absolutely buzzing.
“It’s all a bit weird. It’s surprising how quickly it all happened, but we’ll win. We’ve had very few of them in the last two years, so there’s a real sense of optimism there. “
He continued: “It definitely feels like a weight has been lifted.
“Given all that the hospitality industry has been through and what everyone has gone through, both financially and mentally, it will take some time to get to the other side, but it is a great day.”
Boozer supremo Noel said he was happy to be back calling to hire a DJ and said hopes were high for the future – including St Patrick’s weekend.
“I think the long Bank Holiday weekend is going to turn into a little festival – and I think people will feel it,” he said.
“Businesses will be affected from the night before on Wednesday, then Thursday as St. Patrick’s Day. On Saturday, Irish are at home with Scotland (during the Six Nations) and on Sunday everyone will do a day of recovery.
“So it’s been a great couple of days and I think a lot of people are going to take that time to be able to go away or down into the country, so I can see towns and villages get hit a bit too. from it. It is also necessary for them.
“It has the potential to be a two-year anniversary of freedom—so it will be interesting to see how it develops.”
Patrick McGowan, part owner of Bad Bobs in Dublin, revealed his booking system is “exploding” with bettors looking to get back to enjoying life on their own. “This is surreal, going from zero to hundreds in such a short amount of time,” he told us.
“But it’s such a big weight on your shoulders, you don’t understand the relief of being allowed to open up again like normal.
“Our online reservation system worked great, but it has completely exploded since restrictions were lifted on people who wanted to book a table. We’re back to doing walk-in, first-come, first-served, but the reservation system is a great indicator.
“We are expecting it to be as busy as possible. We can’t fully lean yet, but we’ll definitely throw a party. ”
Daniel Smith, a liquor dealer at Dublin’s Grogans, said the atmosphere was “brilliant” after restrictions were lifted.
He added: “It’s been a long time – it’s 22 months now. To finally get back feels a bit bizarre. There have been so many times over the course of the past two years that we didn’t think we would get this day, so to finally return to it was something special. ”
BACK TO NORMAL
Addressing the nation yesterday, The Taoiseach told the public it was time to be yourself again.
And Corkman Martin will be disappointed that his first day of freedom has seen his county brutally lose the McGrath Cup to Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney, 2-17 to 0-11.
Also including sweeping rule changes are live events and sporting events that can resume at full capacity.
The guidance counseling limit on household visits has also been removed and workers on Irish will be back to the office amazingly from tomorrow.
Protective measures will remain in place in schools until at least the end of February. They will be reviewed at that time, at which point all children between the ages of five and 11 will have a chance to be stabbed.
In his address to the nation, Taoiseach said he could not promise “there won’t be further upheavals during this pandemic that will require different decisions in the future”.
And his comments were echoed by the World Health Organization, who also called for caution.
Dr. Margaret Harris says Covid-19 remains a major global threat as more than 18 million new cases and 45,000 deaths were recorded around the world last week.
“In places where different countries, different societies are seeing declines, it makes sense to start looking at how you negotiate the new normal,” she said. But it’s certainly not over yet. As an individual, it is important that you know what your situation is. Have you been vaccinated? Has your family been vaccinated? Are you in an area where transmission is still available?
“It is very important that although the general signal is that things are improving, think at your own risk.”
As for the prospect of future variants, Dr Harris said the WHO hoped for many more and that “the jury is still out on what this virus can do”.
This comes as health officials today reported 6,689 new cases of the virus, while 3,911 registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.
Meanwhile, about 1,000 people protested Dublin The city earlier today called for an end to all Covid restrictions – on the day nearly all were canceled – and an end to face masks in schools.
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