Ireland’s lockdown measures “may well” go past the initial April 12 deadline, Tanaiste Simon Coveney has said.
Donegal and the rest of the country were ordered to stay at home apart from food or medicine shopping, doing essential work, caring for someone or exercising within 2km of their homes.
As the Government announced plans for a Community Call initiative, Mr Coveney said a decision on further measures will be taken with the “best public health advice”.
He admitted “I think people do need to realise that these restrictions may go on for some time.
“We’ve set an initial period but I think it may well be that we will need to go beyond that initial deadline, but again that will be a decision take with the best public health advice.”
A total of 31 community call offices will be located across the country with volunteers will helping to get groceries or collect medicines as required.
The Community Call will community activity, direct community assistance to where it is needed, and marshal the volunteering energy of the country.
The immediate focus is on the elderly and the most vulnerable, and mobilising rapid response in every country to make sure everyone is looked after.
The focus will expand to broader the wellbeing of our society and how communities can work together to help the country through the Covid-19 crisis, the government said.
He said: “Today, I’m announcing a major national and local initiative called the Community Call.
“It’s a partnership with national governments, local governments and the community and voluntary sectors.
“Right across the country we will coordinate community activity and direct community assistance, where it’s needed.
“It will marshal a volunteering response in every town, parish county and city in the country.
“The work of Community Call will be focused on specific needs and it will also be broad-ranging in its reach and its scope.”
He added: “This is an unprecedented mobilisation of State and voluntary resources to combat the effects of a crisis that has come on us, so suddenly and so unexpectedly.
“I am convinced, though, that our communities will be the decisive factor in protecting and restoring our society and our economy in the weeks and months ahead, bringing us to a better future.
“In the face of this national emergency it will be how we respond as communities, how we look after our friends and our neighbours that may well be decisive Ireland.
“In my view, Ireland has stronger communities than any other country in the world.
“This crisis and this emergency will test that network and that resilience, but I am confident that our communities will respond to this initiative in a way that will save lives and help many, many people across this island.”
The Tanaiste said that he has an “unshakeable belief” in the resilience of Ireland’s society and in the power of community.
He said: “In the end, community is what we got us through this crisis on a local and on a national level.
“I can’t overstate the importance that the Government attaches to the power of community action in this crisis.
“We’re asking the most senior public servants in every county and every city to oversee a new initiative that we’re announcing today.”