An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced further restrictions today in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19, but said it is not a “complete lockdown”.
Varadkar said he believes the term lockdown “creates more confusion than clarity”.
All theatres, clubs, hairdressers, casinos and gyms are to shut from midnight tonight. All restaurants and cafes are to operate as take-away only.
The government will provide a list of essential retailers that can remain open, with all others being ordered to close.
Varadkar also announced that rent freezes are being put in place, along with the prevention of evictions. Both the unemployment payment and sick payment are being increased to €350, with Varadkar confirming that those who have to self-isolate will also be eligible for the payment.
The restrictions have been extended to last until April 19th, as opposed to the original date of 29th March.
Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said we are in the “early stages” in the progression of COVID-19, but already the HSE are seeing signs that the restrictions are working.
“One of the most significant early indicators that we have seen is that the number of contacts that we see associated with an individual case has dropped from in and around 20 a week ago to less than five now, that shows that the message is getting through,” he said.
However, Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Holohan all urged the public to do more when it comes to social distancing and remembering the five key steps: regular handwashing, coughing etiquette, not touching your face, maintaining physical distance and staying at home if feeling unwell.
Image Credit: NIAID