Lifting Covid restrictions: What can I do on Saturday that I haven’t been able to do?

Pub opening hours restored and two-metre rule scrapped in wide-ranging changes

The coming days will mark some of the most wide-ranging and rapid changes to the rules that have governed day-to-day life since Covid-19 arrived in Ireland. But what can you do today (and tomorrow) that you couldn't do yesterday?

Going out

From 6am on Saturday pubs and restaurants will revert to their traditional opening hours, and nightclubs can reopen. Formal requirements for physical distancing in general (ie, the two-metre rule) are gone, as are requirements for physical distancing in hospitality settings; so one metre between tables, six per table – all are gone. The requirement to be seated at indoor events is gone, as is the requirement for pods of six at indoor activities.

Hospital Report

You will not need your Covid pass for accessing venues or activities. The venue no longer needs to record contact details.

At home

Limits on the number of households that can mix in each other’s homes have been scrapped.


Special events

Limits on the numbers attending weddings have been removed.

In the workplace

From Monday, a phased return to the office is planned, appropriate to each sector. The Government will consult with unions and employers’ groups, and firms are being encouraged to consult with their workers over the best approach. It is anticipated the phases will conclude by the end of February.

Travelling overseas

There are no changes. The digital Covid cert remains, and for those without proof of vaccination or recovery or a negative test, they must produce a negative PCR test result from no more than 72 hours before arrival. The passenger locator form remains.


A mask will be required in all the settings in which it is currently regulated: retail, transport, public offices, among those in consumer-facing roles, airports, stations and ports. This will be retained until February 28th.


Visits to health services such as day services, and residential facilities such as nursing homes are not restricted.

Schools and childcare

The current arrangements and protective measures are being retained until February 28th, to allow all eligible children be vaccinated in line with their parents’ consent.

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)

This was altered and extended when restrictions were introduced in December. Planned cuts (a reversion to a two-rate subsidy) will come in on February 1st for most companies, followed by a flat rate subsidy of €100 in March and April. For those companies who became newly eligible under December restrictions, that will be delayed by a month.

Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS)

An extra week will be paid to businesses after restrictions are lifted.

Employers’ PRSI

This will be reinstated at the full rate from March 1st. The tax debt warehousing scheme has been extended from the end of March to the end of April.

Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)

Entry to the scheme, which was extended to the end of the month when restrictions were reintroduced, is closed from January 22nd. Anyone remaining on PUP will move to a weekly rate of €208 from March 8th, and onto a jobseekers’ payment from April 5th. Enhanced illness benefit is being extended to the end of June.


People who develop symptoms of Covid are asked to isolate and get a test, while close contacts are to follow HSE guidance. Boosters and vaccines, and the use of masks appropriately, is advised.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times