Speaking to the country this evening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that he “wants to see our students on campus for the new academic year, enjoying the further and higher education experience that they deserve”.
Martin acknowledged that plans are being developed for the resumption of activities in the arts, culture, and educational sectors, however “the key factor remains stick with the strategy; a gradual, responsible, reopening”.
This acknowledgment came as the government announced their plan to move out of Ireland’s third and longest lockdown, which has lasted four months to date.
“It has been a tough and unprecedented year in so many ways,” Martin said. “You have done everything that has been asked of you. We as a government will continue to do everything we can to support you.”
It was also announced that inter-country travel and outdoor gatherings of six people from up to three households will be permitted from May 10. Personal services, including barbers and hairdressers, will also resume from May 10, and non-essential retail will open fully from May 17.
From June 7, outdoor services in restaurants and pubs will return, alongside the reopening of cinemas.
Third level education has been almost completely online since the beginning of the pandemic, with some exceptions for essential in-person activities.
While students were informed before the beginning of the first term of the academic year 2020/21 they would resume a hybrid learning approach in September, this was cancelled a few weeks prior due to concerns about a rise in Covid-19 cases in the country. Similarly, students were told in January that due to a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases following the Christmas period, online learning was to remain the primary form of education in Trinity for the remainder of the academic year.
Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris has said that the use of rapid antigen testing could facilitate the safe return of on-campus learning in the Autumn.