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Closure of schools extended as government introduces new Covid-19 measures

By James Fenton

March 24, 2020 at 4:23pm

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Leo Varadkar has announced that schools will remain closed until April 19 at the earliest to combat the spread of Covid-19.

In a government press conference this afternoon, Leo Varadkar introduced new measures to fight the Covid-19 outbreak. In order to slow the spread of the virus, the measures Varadkar introduced on March 12, including the closure of schools and colleges, will remain in place until Sunday, April 19.

Varadkar also said that there should be no social gatherings of more than four people. This is unless all concerned are members of the same household. All non-essential indoor visits should also be avoided.

People were asked to only leave their homes to go to work and only if that work is essential. As well as that, all non-essential retail outlets are to close to members of the public and all other retail outlets are to implement physical distancing.

The following are to be considered essential retail outlets:

1. Retail and wholesale sale of food, beverages and newspapers in non-specialised and specialised stores;

2. Retail sale of household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences and businesses;

3. Pharmacies/Chemists and retailers providing pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical or dispensing services;

4. Opticians/Optometrists;

5. Retail sale of selling medical and orthopaedic goods in specialised stores;

6. Fuel stations and heating fuel providers;

7. Retailers involved in the repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycle repair and related facilities (e.g. tyre sales and repairs);

8. Retail sale of essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including animal feed and medicines, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding;

9. Laundries and Drycleaners;

10. Banks, Post Offices and Credit Unions;

11. Retail sale of safety supply stores (for e.g. work clothes, Personal Protective Equipment);

12. Hardware stores, builders’ merchants and stores that provide hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance, sanitation and farm equipment, supplies and tools essential for gardening/farming/agriculture;

13. Retail sale of office products and services for individuals working from home and for businesses;

14. Retailers providing electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home.

Varadkar: "Increased presence of Gardai"

Restaurants and cafes have been asked to close unless they can offer a takeaway option. Furthermore, Varadkar said that hotels are to limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons.

The following new measures are also being taken:

  • Theatres, clubs, gyms/leisure centres, hairdressers, betting shops, marts, markets, casinos, bingo halls, libraries and other similar outlets are to shut;
  • All sporting events are cancelled, including those behind closed doors;
  • Playgrounds and holiday/caravan parks will close;
  • An increased presence of Gardai and park rangers in parks to ensure social distancing
  • 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.

Varadkar also said that there should be no unnecessary travel within the country or overseas and that includes during the Easter break.

In his speech, Varadkar said that "This could go on for weeks or months and we need to maintain our humanity, we need to see our families and loved ones and look after our mental and physical health. And we can do it if we maintain a physical distance of two metres or more." He added that "I believe a liberal democracy can do this without the need for authoritarian or draconian actions."

Regarding employment, Varadkar added that "In recognition of the fact that so many fellow citizens have lost their jobs so suddenly, we are raising the Covid unemployment payment to €350 a week. This is approximately 75% of average earnings in the sectors most affected, and compares favourably to what is being done in other countries.  The first payments will be made on Friday."

The full transcript of Leo Varadkar's speech today can be found here.

READ NEXT: The full transcript of Conor McGregor's impassioned Covid-19 plea

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