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As of today, 18th May – we have entered Phase 1 of easing of COVID-19 Restrictions.

  • You may meet 4 people from another household, outdoors, while maintaining 2m social distance.
  • Hardware Stores, Farming and Agriculture Stores, Garden Centres and Farmers Markets can reopen.
  • Opticians and Optometrists providing hearing test services can reopen.
  • Car dealerships can reopen.
  • Motorcycle and bicycle repair shops can reopen.
  • Electrical, IT and Phone Sales and Repair stores can reopen.
  • Outdoor public amenities and tourism sites, such as car parks, beaches and mountain walks can reopen.
  • Public sports amenities such as Playing Pitches, Tennis Courts and Golf Courses can reopen.
  • Outdoor sports and fitness activities, in groups of no more than 4 are permitted within 5km provided there is no physical contact.
  • Schools and College buildings can reopen for teachers, and lectures to facilitate remote learning and gather books/equipment.

Retail Ireland say that Today Marks the First Steps on the Road to Recovery. Commenting on the phase 1 reopening of the Irish economy David Fitzsimons, Group Chief Executive, Retail Excellence Ireland said: “Today is a very welcome day and marks the first steps on the road to recovery. Irish retailers are ingenious and resourceful and have invested great effort in planning for today to ensure they open safely for their customers and colleagues. As consumers come out of hibernation to purchase non-essential items, we remind everyone of the importance of our local independent stores. Please use them as we don’t want to lose them.”

Rachel Doyle, Founder Arboretum Garden Heave in Carlow and Kilquade said: “It feels good to be able to reopen our doors today and we have put a huge effort in to be ready. It has been incredibly frustrating to be closed during one of the best springs in terms of weather I can remember. We’ve done extensive work in the garden centres in terms of putting in place all the measures possible to protect customers and staff. Arboretum has always been about the experience and we reopen in that vein, but under new guidelines aimed at shopping safely. Our Kilquade store in Wicklow will open on the 21st of May due to extra safety measures we are taking. Businesses like Arboretum, family run SME’s, are at the core of the community and there is responsibility for government to take the decisive bold measures required to rebuild confidence in our local economy. We have a long journey ahead of us and with the correct government supports and our willingness to survive, we will get there.”

Sean McCrave, Chief Executive, Association of Optometrists Ireland said: “Optometrists are pleased to be reopening in order to serve customers and to face into the serious business challenges that the pandemic has brought on. AOI is encouraging all practices to carefully follow safety guidelines to protect people, to ensure that we avoid any further lockdown periods. Moving forward there are more public eye-care services which local Optometrists can provide to ease pressure on other parts of the health system. The lockdown has shown how services can reorganise.”

Commenting on the reopening, Paul Candon, Chairman of Homevalue Group said: “Today is a welcome development in the reopening of the Irish economy and a first step on the road to recovery. We look forward to opening our 140 stores welcoming our colleagues and customers back through our doors. In preparation we have taken great care and made significant investment to ensure we are following guidance provided by the Government and re-opening in a safe and responsible way.”

Retail Excellence has called for the following Government to launch the following urgent measures:

  • A commercial rent grant equivalent to 60% of the rent payable during the period of emergency
  • A 12 months local authority rates waiver
  • 0% loans for all impacted business and a Covid-19 compensation scheme


The Government has today (Friday) announced that we are on course to move to Phase 1 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business from Monday May 18th. This is in line with advice received from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Speaking at the announcement, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar said: “I can confirm that it is safe to proceed with Phase 1 of our plan to ease the COVID-19 restrictions on Monday. This gives us reason to hope, but it is not a cause for celebration. We have a long way to go yet. There will be bumps in the road and we have to keep our guard up.”

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From Monday, under Phase 1, you are advised to Stay at Home, and avoid unnecessary journeys, except for the following 5 reasons:

  • to go to work, if your place of work is open and you cannot work from home
  • to shop for items you need
  • to exercise within 5km of your home
  • for medical reasons or to care for others
  • to meet friends or family outside, within 5km of your home, in groups of no more than 4

Older people and those who are cocooning should continue to stay at home, except for brief outdoor exercise within 5km of their home.

The Roadmapwhich was published two weeks ago, sets out five stages for unlocking the restrictions put in place to contain the Coronavirus, at three week intervals. As we ease restrictions, the rate of the virus in the community will be constantly monitored by the National Public Health Emergency Team and the Government.

The Government is urging everyone to remember the importance of adhering to basic hygiene measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. These are to:

  • wash your hands regularly
  • maintain a 2 metre distance from others where possible
  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue
  • stay at home and self-isolate if you are sick

These measures are more important than ever as we gradually lift restrictions.

As part of the gradual easing of restrictions in Phase 1 , members of the public are being advised to use a face covering (i.e. a non-medical face covering) as an additional hygiene measure, when using busy public transport or when in enclosed indoor public areas such as retail outlets.

An Taoiseach said: “As a country we have done a lot to suppress the spread of this virus. But extreme vigilance will be required until a vaccine, effective treatment or prophylaxis is found, and that might be some time away. The only thing that is inevitable is the spread of the virus unless we push it back every day. Coronavirus is a ‘fire in retreat’ but it is not defeated. We must extinguish every spark, quench every ember.”

As part of the Government’s plan to gradually reopen our economy and society, the following changes will come into effect from Monday, where social distancing can be maintained:

  • construction workers, gardeners and other outdoor workers can return to work

List of retailers that can open:

  • Hardware stores
  • Builders merchants and those providing essential supplies and tools for gardening
  • Farming and agriculture; garden centres and farmers markets
  • Opticians/Optometrists/Outlets providing hearing test services, selling hearing aids and appliances
  • Retailers involved in the sale, supply and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles and related facilities (e.g. tyre sales and repairs);
  • Office products and services; electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home. This does not include homeware stores.
  • Outdoor public amenities and tourism sites, such as carparks, beaches and mountain walks may reopen
  • Outdoor public sports amenities, like playing pitches, tennis courts and golf courses may reopen
  • Outdoor sports and fitness activities in groups of no more than four are permitted within 5km of your home and providing there is no physical contact
  • School and college buildings may reopen for teachers and lecturers to facilitate remote learning

Only stores providing homeware incidental to primary retail functions set out in the original Essential Services list are to repen in Phase 1. It is not intended that stores which might also classify themselves as homeware, but primarily sell items such as furniture, bedding, curtains, kitchenware, crockery or other such items etc. should open.

During Phase 1, it is intended that customers should restrict visits to such stores for essential supplies. All retailers are encouraged to continue to provide on-line services where that is possible and appropriate to minimise footfall. All of these outlets must implement physical distancing measures and measures set out in the Return to Work Safely Protocol.

The Return to Work Safely Protocol is the operative guide for employees and employers as sectors of our economy reopen.

In reaching its decision, the Government also considered the social and economic implications of the COVID-19 restrictions, and was briefed by the Minister for Health on the latest data regarding the progression of COVID-19 in the community and the capacity of our health service.


You can view a full list of businesses permitted to open in Phase 1 on on


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