Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has just announced a number of stricter measures for the people of Ireland in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
While he is reluctant to use the phrase 'full lockdown' because the term "means different things to different people", he has admitted that there are no measures more restrictive than this.
From midnight tonight, everyone in Ireland must stay at home for two weeks unless they fit into the following criteria:
- Essential workers travelling to and from work
- Shopping for food or attending medical appointments
- Vital family reasons such as care for children and the elderly
- Brief exercise but only within 2km of home
- Farming purposes
As well as these strict measures, a number of other restrictions were put in place:
- All public and private gatherings of any number of people are strictly prohibited
- Even social family visits should be avoided
- A further range of non-essential shops will be closed
- Non-essential surgery and health procedures are to be postponed
- Visits to hospitals and prisons are to cease
- Shielding and cocooning measures will be introduced for elderly
- Travel to offshore islands limited to residents only
- Public transport is restricted only to essential workers
- There is to be no travel outside of 2km radius of your home for any reason
An Taoiseach, in his address this evening stressed that we are "restricting how we live our lives" to ensure that the more vulnerable can continue to live theirs.
He also said that we should "make these sacrifices, not out of self-interest, but for the love of each other".
"The whole world is suffering during this pandemic, and Ireland is no different. What happens next is up to each and every one of us," he said.
Minister for Health, Simon Harris praised those who stood outside their homes last night to applaud the staff working on the frontline, but emphasised that "they're staying in work, so we need you to stay at home".
"Our personal worlds must now shrink again," he said.
"In the face of a crisis where we know the actions we can take as individuals will make all the difference, we have to ask ourselves can we do more? And we can and we will."
We must stay at home, he emphasised, unless for the reasons outlined by the Taoiseach. Older people must stay home altogether.
"I know this is already so strange and so difficult and it's not going to get any easier in the days ahead, but we have to take the further measures advised to give ourselves the very best chance to reduce the impact of this virus and save lives," Minister Harris said.
"This is the reality that we face. This is the now that we're living in. So we have to accept these temporary restrictions."
The Minister then referenced a quote by Victor Hugo: "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise."
"If we endure now, we can hope to see that sunrise sooner," he said, adding that if we make these "intense and difficult changes", we may not have to endure them for as long.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan explained that there has been a drop in the number of contacts that the HSE has had to track, due to people abiding by social distancing and other restrictions. He also revealed that the day on day increase in cases has slowed down.
"But this does not tell us that the worst is over It tells us that we are having some early impact," he said, adding that two weeks will "really suppress the transmission" of the virus.
Approximately 50% of confirmed cases are community transmissions with no links that can be identified, he revealed.
"This tells us that the virus is in the community. And we think that with these additional measures, we can drive the infection back out of the community and into households," he said.
Anyone who shows symptoms of the virus will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days and to make contact with their GP.
"Rapid, early, comprehensive, coherent advice of this kind is necessary and will help to drive this infection from the community," he said.