All public and private gatherings banned as Ireland goes on lockdown until Easter

By Daniel McConnell and Joel Slattery

Drastic restrictions on public movements requiring everyone to remain at home are to take effect from 12 midnight tonight for a period for two weeks.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a near-total lockdown on Friday night that in a bid to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Mr Varadkar announced that from midnight tonight, for a two-week period - everybody must stay at home in all circumstances, except in exceptional circumstances such as work and to get essential goods

He said that all public and private gatherings outside of a single household will be prohibited and all non-essential health services will be postponed. He also ordered that 'Cocooning' will be introduced for those over 70 years of age.

Mr Varadkar said that all public transport and passenger travel will be restricted to workers only or people providing essential services, and no travel outside 2km from people's own homes.

The measures were introduced just hours after the death total in the country hit 22 - with 2,121 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

All travel to offshore islands will be restricted to residents of those islands, he said and he appealed to everyone to make these sacrifices not out of self-interest, but out of love for one another.

He urges people to show support for healthcare staff by staying at home

Speaking at the same press conference, Health Minister Simon Harris says tonight they are asking people to stand with health workers.

He said our personal worlds must now shrink again, and that in the face of such a crisis where personal responsibility can make all the difference, people must be able to do more to do so.

    The exceptions to this are:
  • To go to, or home from, work
  • To get food
  • To get medicine
  • For "vital" family reasons
  • For "brief" physical exercise - within 2km of your home
  • For farming activities involved in the production of food

"Our country is rising to the challenge - we will prevail," Mr Varadkar said.

The number of those in intensive care units has doubled since Monday, Mr Varadkar outlined.

The Taoiseach also offered his condolences to the families of those whose deaths were announced today. He announced one of the three who died was a healthcare worker.

Health Minister Simon Harris called on the public to stand with health workers.