DUBLIN — Ireland cleared the way for its first full public celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in two years as the prime minister, Micheal Martin, announced on Friday that most Covid restrictions would end beginning on Saturday.
“Spring is coming, and I don’t know if I have ever looked forward to one as much as this one,” said Mr. Martin. “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.”
The minister for culture, tourism and the arts, Catherine Martin, also confirmed that the nation’s St. Patrick’s Day festival would go ahead in March, after a two-year hiatus. The festival in 2020 was an early casualty of the pandemic, canceled only the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. And last year’s celebration was canceled, too.
Bars and restaurants will be able to stay open past 8 p.m. after lifting Covid restrictions, which was mandated during the holiday season due to Omicron cases rising.
Customers won’t need to show proof that they have been immunized or that they have suffered from a recent infection. Nightclubs will be able to reopen, and there will be no restrictions on the number of people who can attend events, such as weddings, concerts, sporting events, or — as is traditional in Ireland — funerals. The rules that prohibited home visits between members from more than two households have been repealed.
“We should all take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come, to appreciate the effort and sacrifice of those who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe, to remember and appreciate the lives and contributions of those we lost,” the prime minister said.
Ireland’s reports of new daily Covid cases have been falling. On Thursday, 5,523 cases were reported in Ireland, down from 26,122 on January 8 during the current Omicron wave. According to a New York Times database 78 percent of Ireland’s population are fully vaccinated.
For at least another month, face masks will be required indoors in public places, such as stores or on public transportation. All international travel inbound or outbound must pass a negative Covid test. These last measures will be reviewed by February. The government hopes that many more children between 5 and 11 years old will have been fully immunized by then.
“The pandemic isn’t over,” Mr. Martin said. “It will still require all of us to be vigilant.”
Source: NY Times