Inter-county travel and access to caravans resumes today as restrictions relaxed in Republic
People in Donegal and right across the Republic will be able to travel to any county in Ireland - including cross-border - from today after the most significant easing of COVID restrictions comes into effect.
There had been some calls last week for the Irish government to temporarily restrict non-essential travel across the border into the north due to higher incidence rates of the virus in Derry & Strabane and Donegal but the government has not made any distinction between any counties across the island as restrictions were eased today.
Significantly for many people and communities in Derry and Donegal, the changes mean people with caravans and mobile homes will be able to access them for the first time in 2021.
The government measures state: “You can travel between counties in Ireland to your stationary mobile home or caravan if you are the owner of the mobile home or caravan.”
A wide range of easements include retailers in the south today being allowed to organise click and collect and personal shopping appointments this week ahead of expected full reopening of all non-essential retail next week. Hairdressing and other personal services also reopens by appointment all across the country.
Meanwhile religious services are to resume with up to 50 people will be allowed to attend church services while galleries and cultural venues can reopen.
The numbers of people able to meet outdoors for social purposes, including in private gardens, has been increased to a maximum of either: three households, or a group of six people.
Small organised outdoor gatherings will also be possible with a maximum attendance of 15 people, while outdoor training for adults can also recommence, in pods of a maximum of 15 people.
Indoor private home visiting will be permitted, without masks or social distancing in the following cases: those who are fully vaccinated may visit with other fully vaccinated people, providing there is no more than 3 households present; those who are fully vaccinated may visit with unvaccinated people from a single household, provided they are not at risk of severe illness.
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “In making decisions on what should happen next, the government has weighed a number of considerations: We have looked at the progress achieved in managing the spread of the disease, the impact of the vaccination programme and the need to continue responsibly reopening our society and economy.
“But we have also looked at the risks of moving too quickly. We have to monitor closely the issue of dangerous new variants and learn from the experience of other countries that are now in the grip of deadly new waves of the disease.
“In particular, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of India. As a country we are doing what we can to help them through this terrible time.
“As I have said repeatedly, we are determined to do everything we can to ensure that when we open a sector of our society or economy, it stays open.
“Taking all of these factors into consideration, we now believe it is safe to continue moving forward in two phases over the coming months.”
An Garda Siochana in Donegal meanwhile in a statement on Facebook said: “As we move forward today and take another big step in what we hope is the road to recovery we want to wish all those who are returning to work the very best of luck!
“Many businesses will reopen today after a very difficult few months, good luck to you all and stay safe.
“As Inter County travel is permitted once again, road traffic levels will increase so please leave extra time for any journeys.
“Following the public health guidelines is as important as ever. We must not allow complacency to creep in. Please continue to practise social distancing, continue to wash our hands frequently and to wear a facemask when required. We should continue to limit our contacts as much as we can.”