DUBLIN, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced on Wednesday night that the government's planned move to phase 4 of reopening society and business has been postponed till Aug. 10 due to the rise of the reproduction rate in the country over recent weeks.
He said in a statement that that the reproduction rate or the R number, which refers to the number of people infected by a virus carrier, has now risen over 1 compared with about 0.5 recorded a few weeks ago.
"The priority now must be to get that R number back below 1," he said, adding that by doing so the country will have the best chance possible to fully reopen schools in late August.
To achieve the target, the government has decided to take five additional measures with immediate effect on Wednesday, he said.
The five measures include compulsory wearing of face coverings by all customers in shops and shopping centers, demanding pubs, bars, hotel bars, casinos and nightclubs to remain closed until Aug. 10, limiting the number of visitors to people's homes to a maximum of 10, extending restrictions on indoor gathering of no more than 50 people and outdoor gathering of no more than 200 people until Aug. 10, and continuing to advise against all non-essential overseas travel.
He also said that the government will announce a green list of countries with virus levels similar to Ireland on July 20, which will be reviewed every two weeks.
People from the countries on the green list can visit Ireland without a 14-day self-isolation upon their arrivals in the country, according to local media reports.
Ireland embarked on a four-phase roadmap of reopening society and business on May 18 with each phase scheduled to last three weeks subject to the actual situation on the ground. The fourth phase was originally scheduled to commence on July 20.