Dublin, Ireland – The Irish government has announced new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of all non-essential businesses and a ban on public gatherings of more than four people. The measures will be in place until at least April 19th.
In a statement, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said, “We are in the middle of a global and national emergency. We are asking people to make sacrifices that would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago. But these actions are necessary to save lives.”
The closure of non-essential businesses will include pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, and hairdressers. Essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, and banks will remain open.
The government has also announced a range of financial measures to support businesses and workers affected by the closures. These include a wage subsidy scheme, a deferral of taxes, and grants for small businesses.
The ban on public gatherings will be enforced by the police, who will have the power to issue fines to those who do not comply. Varadkar urged people to stay at home as much as possible and to only leave their homes for essential reasons such as buying food or medicine or to provide care for a vulnerable person.
The announcement comes as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland continues to rise. As of March 24th, there have been 1,329 confirmed cases and seven deaths.
The government has also announced that it will be increasing the capacity of the health service to deal with the outbreak. This will include the hiring of additional staff, the acquisition of additional equipment, and the conversion of private hospitals into public hospitals.
The measures have been welcomed by health experts, who have warned that the health service could be overwhelmed if action is not taken to slow the spread of the virus.
Dr. Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer, said, “We are at a crucial point in our efforts to flatten the curve and save lives. Every citizen who follows the measures we have put in place is making a significant contribution to this effort.”
The closure of non-essential businesses has been met with mixed reactions from the public. While some have praised the government for taking decisive action, others have expressed concerns about the impact on their livelihoods.
The government has acknowledged the difficulties faced by businesses and workers and has urged landlords to show flexibility in relation to rent payments.
Varadkar said, “We will get through this. We will prevail. But we will only do so if we work together, if we show solidarity, and if we look out for each other.”
The measures announced by the government are among the most stringent in Europe and reflect the seriousness of the situation in Ireland. The government has said that it will review the measures in three weeks’ time and will adjust them as necessary based on the advice of health experts.
As the country faces an unprecedented challenge, the government has called on all citizens to play their part in the effort to slow the spread of the virus and to protect the most vulnerable members of society.