One of the most COVID-19 conscious countries in the European Union has decided it’s made it to the other side of the Omicron wave. Ireland recently scheduled almost all of its long-running COVID-19 restrictions to expire beginning January 29. Reuters reports that the country had the second-highest incidence rate of COVID-19 in Europe last week, though Ireland also has one of the highest rate of citizens with booster shots. New cases peaked at just over 41,000 on January 11, but had significantly fallen to just 3,692 new cases by January 24.
“We have weathered the Omicron storm,” with the rate of infection reduced, booster shots increasing, and all key indicators “going in the right direction,” Ireland Prime Minister Micheál Martin said in a national address, as reported by Bloomberg. “I have stood here and spoken to you on some very dark days. But today is a good day.”
The restrictions that the Irish government has decided to drop include:
- Bars and restaurants will no longer need to close at 8 PM
- Bars and restaurants will no longer have to ask customers for proof of vaccinations
- Indoor and outdoor venues are able to return to full capacity, just in time for February’s Six Nations rugby championship, and St. Patrick’s day celebrations in March.
Unless things change between now and March 17, Dublin organizers are “full steam ahead” on planning the return of the massive St. Patrick’s Day national celebration, according to The Mirror. Pre-pandemic, the event lasted for days and could take more than a year to plan. This year, 13 bands have been booked and a parade planned so far.
The news from Ireland follows last week’s move from Britain, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plans to lift most of the UK’s COVID-19 restrictions, like the work from home guidance and vaccine passports, beginning January 26.
In Ireland, people are still required to wear masks on public transport and in shops until the end of February. Unvaccinated travelers have to show a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival.