Galway East TD and Minister for Rural Affairs Seán Canney has paid tribute to the community spirit of the general public as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
Minister Canney said: “Without question, it is only thanks to the co-operation of the vast majority of our people that we have been able to ease the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
“Many people have had to make sacrifices in terms of staying away from their families, children and grandchildren or by staying indoors.
“Many others, including thousands of volunteers, neighbours and community groups and organisations have facilitated those cocooning by offering practical and moral support, whether it was doing the shopping or just a phone call to say hello and check on how people are doing.
“The public has shown its meitheal and this has played a crucial role in containing the virus and enabling life to open up again.
“I welcome the fact that we have been able to accelerate the lifting of restrictions into four phases instead of five.
“There is a delicate balance to be struck between our need to get the economy moving again and the imperative of ensuring the coronavirus is defeated.
“We all need to be vigilant around taking the proper precautions to avoid any reversal or delay in what we hope will be a resumption of our normal lives.
“We may have to adjust to a new “normal” but with the full co-operation of people observing social distancing, hand-washing and other measures, we will get there.
“I fully support the new emphasis on staying local. This aligns both the key public health advice to avoid unnecessary travel and risk with essential support for our local business and services so that they can recover and we can enjoy the amenities we need within our own communities.”

Notes to Editors
We are now in Phase 2 of the four-stage plan for reopening Ireland.
This means the following:

You can now leave your home, but you are asked to stay local. That means staying within your own county, or travelling no more than 20 kilometres from your home, whichever is greater. These travel limits will be lifted from the end of June, assuming that we are ready to move to Phase 3 then.

You can meet up to 6 friends and family from outside your household either indoors or outdoors but you still need to maintain social distancing.

Organised outdoor exercise, sporting, cultural or social activities of up to 15 people may take place.

Public libraries will commence reopening, playgrounds may open and outdoor summer camps may operate for children.

We are still asking people to use local amenities as much as possible rather than travelling but the main thing when you get there is to remember the public health advice on social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

All retail stores can reopen, but opening times will be staggered to relieve pressure on public transport. You are encouraged to shop locally, shop safely and support businesses in your community.
We would also ask that if you are visiting shops that you go prepared for a very different shopping experience – be prepared to queue, limit your time in the shop, take note of the times that are reserved for older or the medically vulnerable people.
Please show patience, particularly when dealing with the staff working in these shops – this is new for everyone but the new procedures are in place to keep everyone safe. Be conscious that staff returning to work may be anxious themselves.

You are asked to continue to work from home if it is possible for you to do so. That will help to limit the number of contacts you have and reduce your risk. It will also help to keep pressure off busy public transport, which has reduced capacity at the moment because of social distancing. We want to make sure that those working in essential services can get to work. If you are returning to work and you can walk or cycle, please do so.

If you are over 70 or medically vulnerable you can do all of the things that everyone else can do. However, it is the case that these groups are more at risk. You should use your own judgement to decide how best to apply the guidance but we are still encouraging you to stay at home as much as you can, maintain social distancing and be extra-vigilant if you are out and about.

Arrangements for funerals have also changed. Social distancing is still important for everyone’s safety, even in these circumstances. The guidance now provides that up to 25 people will be allowed to attend funeral services and burial/cremation ceremonies of loved ones.
The government has announced that some actions from remaining phases are being brought forward. Instead of the original five-phased Roadmap, we intend to conclude the Roadmap in four phases, which means we have two more phases to go.

Assuming all goes well, Phase 3 will start on 29 June, and Phase 4 on 20 July. The government will work out in the days ahead which actions will take place in each, in line with public health guidance.

For more information, contact Minister Canney on 086-2513639
June 9 2020