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Ireland on Friday announced a staggered easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions to allow some businesses to reopen and for families to gather ahead of Christmas.

Speaking in a televised address, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the upcoming festive period “cannot and will not be the kind of Christmas we are used to” but added the easing of restrictions would offer “some respite from the hardships of 2020 and in particular, the last six weeks”.

“In easing restrictions we are going as far as we believe it is possible to achieve the best balance of health, economic, and