Taoiseach introduces new measures to combat COVID-19

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressed the nation this afternoon.

He said this is not a lockdown but he told people to stay at home if at all possible, adding people should only leave home to go to work if your work is essential and can’t be done remotely.

He also announced a range of new measures to combat Covid-19:

All theatres, clubs, gyms/leisure centres, hairdressers, betting shops, marts, markets, casinos, bingo halls, libraries and other similar outlets are to close.

All hotels must limit their 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 must implement social distancing.

All cafes and restaurants are to limit supply to take-away food or delivery and implement social distancing measures for queuing.

All sporting events are cancelled, including those taking place behind closed doors and all playgrounds and holiday/caravan parks will close.

There will be an increased presence of park rangers and Gardaí in parks and public places to ensure physical distancing is being observed; the new powers afforded to the Gardaí will be used sparingly and only when necessary.

The Taoiseach also said all places of worship are to restrict the numbers entering for social distancing.

Leo Varadkar says construction sites and factories do not have to be shut but physical distancing can be employed.

He said there should be no travel within or outside of Ireland, unless it’s absolutely necessary and all planned cruise ship travel to Ireland will cease.

The COVID emergency payment is to be increased to €350 a week along with illness benefit, and there’ll be the chance for companies to top up illness benefit further.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed the COVID illness benefit will now also apply to family members who have to self isolate because someone in their home gets coronavirus.

Companies can benefit from 70% back from the Government if they keep people employed and pay the other 30%. This will be capped at 38,000 salary a year or € 410 a week from the Government.

Meanwhile, private hospitals will work as public hospitals which should add 2,000 beds.

This morning Cabinet approved the ‘Emergency Measures in the Public Interest COVID Bill’.  This legislation, for the duration of the emergency, will freeze rents, prevent evictions, make it easier for health care professionals to re-register and return to work, and enable former members of our Defence Forces to rejoin at the rank they left.

Leo Varadkar added that the measures he introduced earlier this month, are now being extended until Sunday, April 19th.