COVID-19: What you need to do

Introduction

The Government is continuing to ease public health measures introduced to minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

You are free to travel to most places in Ireland, including offshore islands. You can also access most shops and services, including hairdressers and restaurants, and participate in most sporting and cultural activities.

However, the virus has not been eliminated fully and we must continue to practice measures such as physical distancing, face covering and regular handwashing to reduce its spread.

On 4 August 2020, the Taoiseach announced that Ireland will not progress to Phase 4 of the roadmap on reopening society and business as planned. The Government will meet again to consider a further easing of restrictions towards the end of August.

From midnight on 7 August 2020, extra restrictions were implemented in 3 counties, Laois, Kildare and Offaly, following a rise in COVID-19 cases. Read our document on public health measures for more information on the public health measures being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19.

This document aims to provide practical guidance and advice on the steps we must all take to protect ourselves and our communities from COVID-19 as social and economic activity resumes.

Extra restrictions in Laois, Kildare and Offaly

On 7 August 2020, following a rise in cases of COVID-19 in these areas, special measures were put in place for 3 Irish counties - Laois, Kildare and Offaly. If you live in one of these counties you can find out about the restrictions on gov.ie. In summary, if you live in one of these counties:

  • You can only travel within the county to travel to and from work if you cannot work at home, to go to medical appointments and for farming purposes
  • You should not use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary and you should not share private vehicles
  • If you meet people indoors you can meet a maximum of 6 people, from no more than 3 households
  • If you meet people outdoors, you can meet a maximum of 15 people
  • All cinemas, theatres, casinos, betting shops, bingo halls, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, exercise and dance studios must close
  • No sporting events or matches should take place with some exceptions

You should not travel into any of these counties unless you need to travel through these counties to get somewhere else. You should not stop in Kildare, Laois or Offaly except for essential purposes. If you are returning from holidays, you can travel in or out of these counties once.

These restrictions start from midnight on Friday 7 August, until midnight on Friday 20 August (2 weeks).

Stay in Ireland

You can currently travel to most counties in Ireland, including offshore islands but not Laois, Kildare or Offaly.

However, the Government is continuing to advise against all non-essential travel overseas. You can read more about Government guidance on foreign travel, and access information about the ‘COVID-19 green list’, in our COVID-19: travel overview.

Under current public health guidance you can:

  • Go to work, if you cannot work from home and your workplace is open
  • Go shopping, or go to the hairdresser or a beautician
  • Dine in a restaurant, café or bar
  • Visit religious and cultural institutions like churches, cinemas, theatres, galleries and music venues
  • Exercise in a gym, swimming pool, or yoga, pilates or dance studio
  • Participate in competitive, close-contact sporting activities
  • Meet with friends indoors in groups of up to 50 people, or outdoors in groups of up to 200 people, provided such gatherings adhere to public health guidelines

However, it is important that when you are planning activities outside your home, you consider the DATE principle:

  • Distance: Always try to stay 2 metres apart from anyone you do not live with
  • Activity: Wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering on public transport or in a crowded indoor space
  • Time: The amount of time you spend with a person or group increases your risk of contracting the virus
  • Environment: Always bear in mind that a closed, poorly ventilated indoor space is much riskier than being outdoors

Work from home if you can

Anyone who can work from home should continue to work from home wherever possible.

However, if you cannot work from home and your workplace has reopened, you can travel to work. You can read more about returning to work safely and your employment rights during the COVID-19 emergency period. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has also published useful guidance for employees returning to work.

If you do need to travel to work, you should walk or cycle if you can. Public transport capacity is limited owing to physical distancing requirements and should only be used where absolutely necessary. If you do need to use public transport, you must wear a face covering (see ‘Wear a face covering’ below for further information).

The Government has published useful guidance (pdf) on practical measures we should all take to stay safe at work. This includes keeping a log of who you meet each day to assist with contact tracing in the event that you or a colleague tests positive for COVID-19.

Wear a face covering

You must wear a face covering (also called a face barrier mask) on all forms of public transport. From 10 August 2020, you must wear a face covering in all shops and shopping centres.

You can read more about face coverings during COVID-19.

Self-isolate if you have symptoms of COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or symptoms like a cold or flu, you need to stay at home and completely avoid contact with other people to avoid passing on the virus. This is called self-isolation. Read advice about how to self-isolate.

Contact your GP by phone. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for COVID-19, they will arrange a test. You will need to self-isolate while you wait for the test and the results. Read about testing for COVID-19.

Close contact

If you live with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, or are a close contact (pdf) of a confirmed case of COVID-19, you must restrict your movements by not leaving your home unless it is absolutely necessary.

Cocooning for people over 70 or medically vulnerable

If you are aged over 70, or you are extremely medically vulnerable to COVID-19, you should stay at home as much as possible to minimise your risk of contracting the virus. This is called cocooning. Read more about what cocooning is and what you need to do.

If you are cocooning, you can go out for exercise, shop locally and have a small number of visitors to your home. However, you are encouraged to remain cautious and use your judgement to decide how best to follow public health guidance.

Frequently asked questions about what you can and cannot do

For information about the planned gradual lifting of restrictions, you can read about the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.

Can I go on holiday?

Yes, provided you stay in Ireland. Currently you can travel to most counties in Ireland, including to offshore islands but not to Laois, Kildare or Offaly.

Across the country, hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, self-catering homes and caravan and camping sites are reopening in accordance with public health guidelines. It is also now possible to visit a variety of cultural and tourist attractions, such as galleries and museums, and to dine in restaurants and cafes, as well as in pubs that serve substantial meals.

However, the Government is continuing to advise against all non-essential travel overseas. You can read more about Government guidance on foreign travel, and access information regarding the ‘COVID-19 green list’, in our COVID-19: travel overview.

If you have booked a trip abroad and want information on your consumer rights, you can read our document, Travel plans and COVID-19.

Can I go to the pub for a drink?

Yes, but if you wish to drink alcohol you must also purchase a ‘substantial meal’ that costs at least €9. This rule applies to each individual customer. If you go to the pub with a group of friends and you all wish to drink alcohol, each member of your group must order a substantial meal. If you do not want to consume an alcoholic drink, you do not need to buy a meal.

Under current public health guidance, you cannot spend longer than 105 minutes dining in any pub or restaurant.

Pubs and hotel bars that do not serve food will remain closed until at least 31 August 2020. The same restriction applies to nightclubs and casinos.

Can I meet up with friends?

You can visit friends and family in groups of up to 10 people, from up to 4 different households.

Organised gatherings (like weddings) are allowed in groups of up 50 people indoors, or 200 people outdoors, provided the gatherings are conducted in accordance with public health guidelines.

However, it is essential that you maintain a safe physical distance of at least 2 metres from anyone you don’t live with and practice regular handwashing and good respiratory hygiene. Where possible, you should also wear a face covering in any public setting in which it is difficult to maintain physical distancing.

Towards the end of August the Government will meet to consider implementing Phase 4 of the roadmap for reopening society and business. This would permit gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors.

Can I play sport?

Yes. You can participate in any indoor or outdoor sporting activity, provided it is conducted in accordance with public health guidance.

Can I go to the hairdresser or beautician?

Yes. Hairdressers, barbers, nail and brow salons, beauty salons, spas, make-up application services, tanning, tattooing and piercing services are all allowed to reopen in accordance with public health guidelines.

Can I go to mass, or to a social or cultural venue like a museum or a cinema?

Yes, community, religious, cultural and social venues and events can resume in accordance with public health guidelines. However, additional precautions are advised for choirs and certain brass musical instrument groups.

Page edited: 8 August 2020