Taoiseach announces new restrictions to slow spread of Covid-19

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Taoiseach announces new restrictions to slow spread of Covid-19

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in a live address on Tuesday March 24

Further restrictions have been announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland.

They include the closure of all non-essential retail outlets.

The extension of closures of schools, colleges and creches to April 19.

Outdoor gatherings to be limited to four people unless it is a family living together.

In a live broadcast on RTE this afternoon March 24, Taoiseach Varadkar said it was not a lockdown, and that families can still see each other.

"It is ok to see our families but we have to maintain physical distance, and in small groups, and in less frequency," he said.

Other measures approved under new emergency legislation include that there is to be no unnecessary travel now or over Easter.

Hotels must limit occupancy to essential non-tourist use.

Cafés and restaurants must be takeaway or delivery only.

All sports must be cancelled including those behind closed doors like horse racing. Caravan parks are to close. 

All organised social events either indoor or outdoor are not to take place. 

Households where there is a suspected case of Covid-19 must restrict their movements until there is a negative test result or 14 days has elapsed since the onset of symptoms.

All scheduled cruise ships to Ireland will cease.

"It is not to be read that factories or construction sites are to shut," the Taoiseach said.

He announced that private hospitals have agreed to operate as public hospitals for the duration of the pandemic. This adds 2,000 beds, nine laboratories and thousands of health care staff to the effort.

"Public and private patients will be treated equally and private hospitals are doing this on a not-for-profit basis," he said.

Retired army personnel will be welcomed back at the rank they left to help.

We need you to serve your country once again," he said.

There will also be increased park rangers and Gardaí in parks to ensure that people follow physical distance guidelines of 2 metres apart.

"These new powers will be used only where necessary. I believe liberal democrocy can do this without draconian actions. We need to maintain our social solidarity, our unity, our community," he said.

"Four years ago we commemorated the 1916 rising, to celebrate the men and women who helped us win our freedom and independence. We never believed we would be called upon to match their courage or example but today we are. Working together as a country we will come through this emergency. We will be tested, we will succeed, our greatest generation was not in the past and better times are yet to come," he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stated that measures were agreed in three primary areas:

Preventing the spread of the virus.
Helping those who lost their jobs 
Introduction of new emergency legislation.
These measures will remain in place until Sunday 19 April 2020:

- All non-essential retail outlets are being told to closed these include restaurants and cafes. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open.
- There will be no time limit placed on people once they leave their home. However, there is to be no gatherings larger than 4.
- All theatres, clubs, gyms/leisure centres, hairdressers, betting shops, marts, markets, casinos, bingo halls, libraries and similar sectors are to close.
- Individuals should work from home unless workplace attendance is essential.
- All sporting events are cancelled, including those behind closed doors. 
- All hotels are to limit occupancy to non-social and non-tourist customers.
- All places of worship are to restrict numbers entering to instill social distancing restrictions. 
- No indoor social events are to take place.
- All crowded places, including public amenities, should be avoided.

- Playgrounds and Caravan parks are to shut down.
- All non-essential indoor visits to other persons’ homes should be avoided.
- Gardaí are to increase interventions and presence where compliance with these measures are not met, or where groups of people are not adhering to recommended social distancing measures.
- Schools will not re-open on the scheduled date of March 29, with the closure order set to be extended.
- Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Support payment to increase by over 50% €203 to €250.
- Taoiseach Varadkar said private hospitals will convert to public hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic.