The Taoiseach has announced new measures in a further bid to ‘flatten the curve’ of the spread of Covid 19 in Ireland.
All theatres, clubs, gyms, hairdressers, bookies, marts and markets are to close and people should avoid public transport if at all possible due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Schools, colleges and childcare facilities closures – will remain in place until April 19.
Any social gatherings of individuals outdoors should be no more than four people – unless they are all from the same household.
Mr Varadkar called the new restrictions – which will kick in from midnight – “unprecedented actions to respond to an unprecedented emergency”.
Park rangers and Gardai will be present to ensure social distancing measures are complied with.
People must work from home unless their attendance to the workplace is essential.
Mr Varadkar said private hospitals “will act effectively as public hospitals” for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “Private hospitals have agreed to do this on a not-for-profit basis.
“Public and private patients will be treated equally.”
Gardai will “increase interventions” to ensure compliance with the measures but such interventions will be used “sparingly”, he added.
All hotels must limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons.
All non-essential retail outlets are to close to the public, while other retail outlets must implement social distancing.
The Taoiseach confirmed unemployment payment and illness benefit is being raised to €350 a week.
All cafes and restaurants must limit supply to takeaway food or delivery and put in place social distancing for queues.
All sporting events are to be cancelled, including those behind closed doors.
All playgrounds and holiday or caravan parks will close and places of worship are to restrict numbers entering at any one time.
Any organised social indoor or outdoor events of any size are not to be held and people should avoid crowded places, including public amenities.
Speaking at a Government briefing in Dublin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “We believe we need to do more to flatten the curve.
“People should stay at home if at all possible – this is the best way to slow the virus.
“I’m asking you to stay at home if at all possible.”
But the Taoiseach said he wouldn’t call today’s new measures a “lockdown” – because the word can “cause confusion and we need clarity rather than confusion”.
Health Minister Simon Harris said patients with Covid-19 will be treated for free in a single national hospital service.
Mr Harris said all private hospitals will be public or run by the State for the duration of the pandemic.
He said: “There can be no public vs private here.”