‘Stay at home if at all possible’ Varadkar announces new measures to combat Covid-19

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Leo Varadkar
Image © leovaradkar.ie

The government has announced a range of new and enhanced measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 and to support workers and businesses in these challenging times.

Speaking this afternoon, the Taoiseach said that the restrictions that were implemented during his speech in Washington are extended until Sunday, April 19th.

To slow the spread of the virus the government has said that additional measures as follows are being implemented:

Social gatherings of no more than four people are allowed, unless those people are from the same household.

He advised against all non-essential travel, and for people to only leave their homes for essential work, going to the supermarket or to visit medical facilities.

Non-essential retail outlets to close from midnight tonight. These include theatres, gyms, hairdressers, libraries and similar outlets.

Other outlets that do not fall under the non-essential category are to implement physical distancing measures.

  • Cafes and restaurants to only offer take-out services.
  • No unnecessary travel either within Ireland or abroad.
  • Playgrounds and holiday/caravan parks to close.

There will be an increased presence of gardai or park rangers in public parks and outdoor areas.

All hotels are to limit occupancy to ‘essential non-social and non-tourist reasons’.

Measures to assist businesses and those who have and will lose their jobs were also announced.

These include:

  • The Covid-19 Unemployment Payment will be increased to €350 per week, with first payment on Friday.
  • The Covid Illness Payment will also increase to €350. This can be topped up by employers.

The Taoiseach also announced that a scheme in which the government will pay upto 70% of a workers salary. This will be capped at €410 a week and depends on a particular level of loss of turnover. It is designed to keep as many people in employment as possible for the duration of the crisis.

Mr Varadkar said that the government will do all it can to sustain the self-employed and that they too will be covered.

Construction sites and factories do not have to close but social or physical distancing guidelines must be adhered to.

It was also announced that the country’s private hospitals will operate as public and that public and private patients will be treated equally.

Legislation to assist renters and to prevent evictions will be dealt with this week.

For updated and factual Public Health information and advice on the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, please visit hse.ie/coronavirus or call 1850 24 1850