DUBLIN, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Ireland on Monday entered into what it called Phase-One stage in easing the restrictions which were imposed some 50 days ago following the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
During the stage, more businesses are allowed to be reopened in the country. They include hardware stores, homeware shops, garden centers, farmers' markets, repair shops for cars, motorbikes and bicycles, and optical shops. Restaurants like McDonald's and Burger King are also permitted to provide drive-through services.
Prior to this, only essential retail outlets in the country, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, were allowed to run business.
Starting from Monday, a phased return of work is also allowed for people who are mainly involved in outdoor work, such as construction workers, gardeners and people working on allotments. However, people who can have their job done remotely are still advised to stay home.
Some outdoor public amenities such as beaches, tennis courts, golf courses, parks and mountain walks are also reopened to the public.
People can also go and meet friends now so long the meeting involves no more than four persons. But indoor visits to other homes are still discouraged.
Under the new rules, people can also travel up to five kilometers away from their homes for exercise purpose, instead of the past 2-kilometer limit.
In the Phase-One stage, two-meter social distancing rules are still applicable for both businesses and individuals and people are also required to wear face masks or coverings when using busy public transport or in crowded indoor facilities.
Ireland plans to reopen its social and economic lives which have been badly hit by the pandemic in five stages with each stage to be reviewed at a three-week interval. If all goes well, the country can enter the next stage in easing its lockdown measures which were announced by the government on March 27.
Ireland reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 at the very end of February when a male from the east of the country was diagnosed with COVID-19 after traveling back from an infected area in northern Italy.
Earlier in the day, the Irish Department of Health reported another 88 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four COVID-19-related deaths in the country.
The death number reported on Monday dropped below the single-digit level for the first time since the end of March, according to official tallies.
To date, a total of 24,200 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Ireland and 1,547 of them have died from the disease, said the Irish Department of Health.