I’m looking for a favour. I’m struggling with isolation like you all but really missing the company. I was also enjoying most of the letters that I received so I have a request. Can you write to me? If you feel like using one of your An Post postcards then great. Letters welcome.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (top), Health Minister Simon Harris and the Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan held a press conference about the Government’s latest response to the coronavirus, in which Mr Varadkar announced further restrictions on the public’s movements.
It follows the latest figures from the Department of Health confirming that three more people have died as a consequence of Covid-19, one of whom was a healthcare worker. This brings the total number of deaths to 22.
The figures also show 302 new cases have been confirmed, bringing the country’s total to 2,121.
During this address, Mr Varadkar said:
“I said there would be a calm before the storm and the aim of every single action that we’ve taken is to reduce the impact of that storm in our country, to slow the virus down, to push it back, to contain it.
“Throughout all of this, the Government has acted on the advice of the chief medical officer and national public health emergency team, an expert team of public health doctors, virologists and scientists.
“Today they informed the Government that the number of confirmed cases has now exceeded 2,100 and sadly the number of deaths now is 22 and there is a day-on-day increase in the number of admissions to intensive care units. In fact the number has doubled since Monday.
“Transmission in the community now accounts for more than half of all cases. And there continues to be an increasing number of clusters, many of which are in nursing homes and residential care settings.
“Earlier today the Government received further recommendations on the actions that we need to take to protect our people. These are in addition to all the measures that are already in place.
“So with effect from midnight tonight, for a two-week period, until Easter Sunday, the 12th, everybody must stay at home in all circumstances, except for the following situations.
“To travel to and from work, for the purposes of work, only where the work is an essential health, social care or other essential service that cannot be done from home. A list of these will be provided.
“To shop for food or household goods, or collect a meal. To attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products. For vital family reasons such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people.
“To take brief, individual, physical exercise within two kilometres of your own home which may include children from your own household, as long as you adhere to two metre physical distancing.
“For farming purposes, that is food production and the caring of animals. All public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household living unit are prohibited.
“The virus might be in your house already so please don’t spread it to anyone else’s.
“Sadly, this prohibition includes family visits that are not for vital reasons which I already mentioned.
“A further range of non-essential shops and services will be closed. The guidance given earlier this week in respect of essential retail outlets will be revised to reflect this.
“Adult community education centres and local community centres will be shut. All non-essential surgery, health procedures and other other non-essential health services will be postponed. All visits to hospitals, residential healthcare settings, other residential settings and prisons are to cease with specific exceptions on compassionate grounds.
“Shielding or cocooning will be introduced for all of those over 70 years of age and specified categories of people who are extremely vulnerable to Covid-19. Detailed guidance will be available.
“Travel to our offshore islands will be limited to residents of those islands. Pharmacists will be permitted to dispense medicine outside of the current period of validity of limited prescription, in line with the pharmacist’s clinical judgment.
“All public transport and passenger travel will be restricted only to essential workers and people providing essential services. Apart from the activities that I’ve listed there should be no travel outside of a two-kilometre radius of your home for any reason.
“These are radical actions aimed at saving as many people’s lives as possible in the days and weeks ahead. We’re not prisoners of fate, we can influence what’s going to happen to us next. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”
An Garda Síochána released the following statement:
An Garda Síochána has this evening started a major nationwide policing operation focused on supporting public compliance with public health measures over this weekend.
Following recent announcements by An Taoiseach of the necessity for people to undertake a range of public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19, there will be high visibility patrolling by Garda members across the country during the weekend.
The focus of this activity will be on encouraging people to adhere to public health measures as announced by An Taoiseach.
The policing operation runs from 7pm tonight until 7am on Monday morning (March 30) and will involve thousands of Gardaí on foot, bike and mobile patrols.
While An Garda Síochána will seek to encourage people to maintain the necessary public health measures, it will intervene where venues/ outlets are not in compliance or where groups of people are not adhering to recommended measures.
An Garda Síochána acknowledges that the vast majority of the public are being responsible and making great efforts to implementing public health measures including social distancing guidelines, this includes staying active as a family unit and availing of fresh air and exercise.
However, the presence of large crowds in any one area reduces the effective impact of social distancing.
An Garda Síochána asks people and families to continue to be responsible, not to attend popular locations for overly long periods and where the numbers of persons starts to increase at any location to leave such areas.
Announcing An Garda Síochána’s operation for this weekend Commissioner Drew Harris said, “An Garda Síochána’s priority is keeping people safe and that will continue this weekend. There will be a major policing plan across the country with high visibility of Garda members at key locations.
“It is vital that people adhere to the social distancing guidelines. This will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. The vast majority of people are complying with the guidelines and we want that to continue this weekend. By all of us working together, we can flatten the curve and keep our loved ones safe.”
Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said, “These high visibility patrols are to provide re-assurance and social distancing advice to the public.
“Garda members will pro-actively engage positively with people. An Garda Síochána will police as it has always done with the consent of the people. It is in everybody’s interest that people comply with these measures.”