The Government has announced that it is implementing further measures to slow the spread of the virus as recommended by the Chief Medical Officer, and by the National Public Health Emergency Team – an expert team of public health doctors, virologists and scientists.
Speaking at the announcement, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The Government has today agreed unprecedented actions to respond to an unprecedented emergency. We have new measures to stop the spread of the virus, in tandem with new measures to help those who have lost or will lose their jobs. I want to thank the people of Ireland for listening to our advice when it comes to physical distancing, regular hand-washing, taking care when sneezing and coughing, and reducing the number of social events and gatherings you attend. It’s too early to know for sure, but we believe it is making a difference. However, we now believe we need to do more.
“We cannot stop this virus but working together we can slow it in its tracks and push it back. These are extraordinarily difficult times for everyone – in Ireland and around the world. But no matter what happens, we will always put your life and your health ahead of any other concern. All our resources are being deployed in this great national effort. And I know that the Irish people will continue to face this head-on, to make the changes that required, and will pull through to the other side.”
The Taoiseach said the following new actions are being taken:
All theatres, clubs, gyms/leisure centres, hairdressers, betting shops, marts, markets, casinos, bingo halls, libraries and other similar outlets are to shut;
All hotels to limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons;
All non-essential retail outlets are to close to members of the public and all other retail outlets are to implement physical distancing;
All cafes and restaurants are to limit supply to take away food or delivery;
All sporting events are cancelled, including those behind closed doors;
All playgrounds and holiday/caravan parks will close;
All places of worship are to restrict numbers entering at any one time to ensure adequate physical distancing;
All organised social indoor and outdoor events of any size are not to take place.
The Taoiseach added that Gardaí will increase interventions where venues are not in compliance with, or where groups of people are not adhering to recommended physical distancing.
Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “As we navigate through this public health emergency, we have asked the Irish people to make great sacrifices. They have risen to that challenge and we have seen some of the benefits of their actions. But now is the time to do more. We have measures now we must take. They are no easy options but we can show the world what can be achieved through intensive, sustained public health action and the willingness of everyone to act for the common good.
“Through Government decisions, the mobilisation of individuals and communities and the leadership of our incredible healthcare professionals, we can have a profound effect on the impact of this outbreak on our people, protect the most vulnerable and save lives.”
Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has urged local communities to do everything they can to protect the elderly and vulnerable in our society as the country unites to battle the spread of the coronavirus.
Deputy Carey also appealed to everyone to continue to follow the best hygiene guidelines and to maintain social distancing to ease as much pressure as possible on our frontline workers and health system in the difficult weeks ahead.
The Clare TD was speaking as the Government announced stricter new measures in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid-19 across the country. The measures include a ban on all non-essential travel, commercial and social activity.
In welcome news, the Government also confirmed the Covid 19 emergency support payment for people who have lost their job as a result of the pandemic will increase from €203 to €350. The Government also announced it will pay 70% of retained workers’ salaries as part of wide-ranging measures to assist companies and employees.
Deputy Carey said: “I welcome the increase in the Covid-19 emergency payment, which will come as a big relief to those to have temporarily lost their jobs or seen their hours reduced as a result of the outbreak.
“I understand the new measures to reduce the spread of the virus will pose difficulties and challenges for people, but they are crucial to flatten the Covid-19 curve and save as many lives as possible in the weeks ahead.
“All of our healthcare workers need us to do the right thing in the weeks ahead, so I urge everyone to do everything they can to protect themselves, their families and their communities.
“The most basic messages of washing your hands properly and practicing good hygiene around sneezing and coughing are still the most important. Maintain physical distancing and minimise travel: we all need to take steps to reduce close human contact We cannot stop this virus but working together we can slow it in its tracks and push it back.”