Ireland drops most of its remaining COVID restrictions

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People walk in the center of Dublin, Ireland January 22, 2022. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

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DUBLIN, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Ireland on Tuesday said it will drop most of its remaining pandemic-linked restrictions from Feb. 28 as an Omicron-fuelled wave of infections ebbs.

The country has been one of the most cautious in the European Union on the risks of COVID-19, putting in place some of the longest-running curbs on travel and hospitality.

People will no longer be legally required to wear masks, physical distancing measures in schools will end, and the national testing and tracing program will be scaled back.

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Government advice that masks should be worn on public transport and in healthcare settings will remain.

As with most other European nations, Ireland experienced a surge in cases last month due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant. The number of daily infections detected remains high, but it is starting to decrease.

"The current epidemiological profile of COVID-19 in Ireland is broadly stable" the government said in a press release, and "while the burden on hospitals remains significant, it is relatively stable".

The process of scrapping COVID-19 restrictions began at the end of January when the government decided that bars and restaurants no longer needed to close at 8 p.m, or to ask customers for proof of vaccination. L1N2U11NL

Indoor and outdoor venues also returned to full capacity.

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Reporting by Graham Fahy Editing by Bernadette Baum

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