DUBLIN (AFP) – Ireland will be the first EU country to return to coronavirus lockdown, prime minister Micheal Martin said Monday (Oct 19), issuing a nationwide “stay at home” order but insisting schools will stay open.
Measures coming into effect for six weeks from midnight on Wednesday (2300 GMT) will see all non-essential retail businesses close and bars and restaurants limited to takeaway service only.
“Everyone in the country is being asked to stay at home,” Martin said in a televised national address.
Only essential workers will be “permitted to travel to work”, he said, and citizens will be allowed out to exercise only within five kilometres (three miles) of their residence.
The government warned in a statement that “there will be a penalty” for violating the five kilometre restriction.
Martin said schools and childcare facilities are to remain open “because we cannot and will not allow our children and young people’s futures to be another victim of this disease.”
A ban on visits between different households and indoor events will also be extended, although elite and professional level sports will be permitted to take place behind closed doors.
Martin said Ireland’s latest restrictions were “probably Europe’s strictest regime” but that “further action is now required”.
“If we pull together over the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way,” he said.
There have been 1,852 deaths from the coronavirus in Ireland according to the latest official figures.
Daily deaths peaked at 77 in April and in recent weeks have consistently remained in the single digits.
On Monday no new deaths were registered in the daily toll.
However like many other nations the Republic is witnessing a resurgence in confirmed infections of the virus, with 1,031 new cases registered on Monday.