Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar
PIC: AFP

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced that the country will enter Phase One stage to ease its lockdown measures against the COVID-19 pandemic starting from next Monday.

He said in a statement on Friday that the decision was made at a cabinet meeting held earlier in the day following the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team, a top body comprising health experts and officials to guide the country's battle against the pandemic, Xinhua news agency reported.

Under the Phase One plan, people mainly involved in outdoor work, such as construction workers and gardeners, will be able to work again, people will also be allowed to shop for any items they need, to exercise within five kilometers of their homes, and to meet friends in groups of no more than four people.

More stores and public amenities will be reopened in Phase One. They include garden centers, hardware stores, farmers' markets, optical shops, car, motorbike and bicycle repair shops, outdoor tennis courts, public beaches and mountain walks.

Under the Phase One guidance, people are required to continue following the two-meter social distancing rules and they are also required to wear face coverings when using busy public transport or when in enclosed indoor public areas such as retail outlets.

Ireland introduced the nationwide lockdown measures at the end of March and the measures are supposed to come to an end on May 18 after they have been extended twice during the course.

On May 1, the Irish government published a roadmap to reopen the country's social and economic lives starting on May 18. According to the roadmap, the country will be reopened in five phases with each phase to be reviewed at a three-week interval. If everything goes well, the country can enter the next phase of the easing of the lockdown measures.

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