BREAKING: Varadkar says non-essential shops to close as new restrictions announced

By Oisín McGovern

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced a range of new restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking in a televised address, the Taoiseach urged people to stay at home unless it was absolutely necessary to leave.

Mr Varadkar said all non-essential retail outlets will close, with only supermarkets and pharmacies to remain open.

He said people should work from home unless attendance was essential.

All indoor and outdoor gatherings will be banned, with the Taoiseach saying outdoor gatherings should consist of no more than four people.

Speaking about the increased measures, Mr Varadkar said: “I wouldn’t use the term lockdown.”

All outdoor recreational facilities are to be avoided, with extra Gardaí to be brought in to enforce restrictions on individuals and businesses

Restaurants may only operate a takeaway and delivery service.

All theatres, clubs, gyms/leisure centres, hairdressers, betting shops, marts, markets, casinos, bingo halls, and libraries are to close. 

All sporting events will also be cancelled, including those being played behind closed doors.

The closure of schools, universities and creches will be extended until at least April 19.

Visitor numbers to places of worship are to be severely restricted.

Hotels will only accommodate people for non-tourist and non-social reasons.

The Taoiseach also announced an increase in the Covid-19 social welfare payment, which will increase €203 to €350.

Mr Varadkar said the ongoing challenges would cost Ireland billions, but that the country would recover.

He also said that the health service would operate as a single-tier system during the ongoing crisis, meaning there would be no discrimination between private and public patients.

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