The government’s plan to lift the coronavirus lockdown on a phased basis comes into effect on 18th May, whilst from Tuesday citizens will be allowed to exercise within 5km of home and over-70s will be permitted to enjoy brief periods outside.

Some frustration has been expressed however that, while cafes and restaurants will be allowed open on June 29th, churches and other places of worship must wait until July 20th to open their doors, with some claiming that social distancing could be easily maintained in church buildings.

Visits to the homes of over-70s or vulnerable people will be permitted from June 8th under Phase 2. Starting on June 29th, Phase 3 will see the opening of non-essential retail outlets, and small social gatherings can also take place from that date

In a speech delivered yesterday, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that progression through the five three-week phases is “not guaranteed” however, and will depend on whether the outbreak is contained.

“We may have to pause it a phase for a while. And unfortunately, I have to be honest with you about this, there’s always the risk that we can go backwards,” he said.

“It is a living document, and if for example we found out the virus was dissipating and weakening much quicker than we intended, there are some things that are now in phase five or four that might be brought forward.”

So far, 1,265 people have died with Covid-19 in Ireland, whilst there have been almost 21,000 confirmed cases, of which 2,768 patients have been hospitalized. 367 people have required intensive care since the outbreak here.