Cabinet meeting on Friday ahead of announcement on restrictions

The Cabinet will on Friday afternoon sign off on a plan to ease the nationwide Level 5 lockdown restrictions and reopen the country in a number of phases in the run-up to Christmas. So what will that look like?
The first phase of the gradual reopening will come into effect on December 1st or 2nd, and allow retail shops, hairdressers, and gyms to open up.
In this phase the Government has focused on reopening services where the likelihood of Covid-19 infection is lower.
All non-essential retail outlets will be permitted to reopen, allowing people who have not spent lockdown filling virtual shopping baskets online to begin their Christmas shopping.
Cinemas, museums and galleries are also expected to reopen, and outdoor sports such as tennis and golf may be allowed to resume.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin addresses the nation at Government Buildings on October 19th announcing a nationwide lockdwon for six weeks. Photograph: Julien Behal/Pool/AFP via Getty
It is likely restaurants and pubs that serve food will reopen in a second phase, potentially a week later on December 7th.
Nursing home residents are to be permitted one scheduled visit a week under this phase.
The hospitality sector had strongly lobbied to be allowed to resume trading for the traditionally busy Christmas period.
So-called wet pubs to stay closed except for takeaway drinks. Photograph: Andy Rain /EPA
There will likely be stricter rules on the time limits and number of people allowed to sit together at a table. The definition of pubs that serve food may also be tightened, to clamp down on pubs opening while only serving very limited food options, à la cheese toasties grilled at the bar.
In short, no. While pubs that can operate as restaurants will be given the green light to open, so-called wet pubs will not. The drink-only pubs will still be shuttered and restricted to takeaway service only.
Given the higher risk of infection associated with people congregating in settings where alcohol is served, it is unlikely drink-only pubs will be allowed to reopen this year.
Dublin wet pubs have been completely closed during the current six-week lockdown when wet pubs outside the capital were allowed to serve takeaway. However, with Fridays announcement Dublins wet pubs are expected be allowed to serve takeaway alcohol like establishments elsewhere in the Republic.
Under a planned third phase of the staggered reopening, restrictions on household visits and travel between counties are to be eased for a period of about two weeks close to Christmas, to allow family and friends celebrate the holiday together.
It is thought this third phase will begin on December 18th, with the size of home visits permitted likely to be fewer than six people from three households.
If coronavirus case numbers shoot up during December, given people will be congregating and socialising, limits on household visits and non-essential travel between counties will be reimposed in early January.
Well, not exactly. In a letter to Government this week, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) recommended a more limited easing of restrictions.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan recommended the hospitality sector remain limited to takeaway services for the entire month of December.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan at a press conference in Dublin on Thursday. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins
The public health group said a choice should be made between relaxing restrictions on household visits, or allowing the hospitality sector reopen.
However, Government figures have stressed ad nauseam of late that it is Nphet who advise, and then Government decides.
Politicians are charged with considering Nphets public health advice, as well as wider economic and societal implications. The Government has also been the subject of fierce lobbying from the hospitality industry in recent days.
Following a Cabinet Covid-19 sub-committee meeting on Thursday night, Government is set to reject Nphets advice and proceed with much of its original three phase plan.
Cabinet is due to kick off at 2pm on Friday, with full details of the reopening plan to be announced at a press conference afterwards, perhaps at around 6pm.
While previous major Covid-19 announcements have often come late in the day following lengthy Cabinet meetings, that is unlikely to be the case this time.
Politicians are well aware that the hugely popular Late Late Toy Show airs on RTÉ One at 9.35pm, so any press conference will have to be done and dusted before that.