Ireland looked set to rapidly unwind almost all COVID-19 restrictions with ministers due to meet on Friday to agree on a timetable after being given the all clear by public health officials.
An 8 p.m curfew on the hospitality sector could be lifted as soon as this weekend, alongside the ditching of vaccines passes with capacity in indoor and outdoor venues also set to return to full capacity, including for next month’s Six Nations rugby championship, local media reported.
Ministers have said previously said that some measures, such as the need to wear a mask on public transport or in shops, are likely to remain in place beyond the ending of the restrictions put in place late last year when the Omicron wave struck.
“I think it is reasonable to expect that we will be able to exit the regulations on a faster basis than would have looked likely a number of days ago,” Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told national broadcaster RTE late on Thursday.
Irish business groups urged the government to move swiftly. The Licensed Vintners Association said pubs and nightclubs were ready to open late as soon as Friday night.
Ireland’s hospitality sector has been particularly hard hit by one of Europe’s toughest lockdown regimes. Nightclubs opened their doors for the first time in 19 months in October only to be shut again six weeks later.