An announcement has been made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar bringing in sweeping closures to schools, colleges and childcare facilities from 6pm today to help minimalise the threat from Coronavirus and Covid19.

It remains to be seen if these changes will filter north of the border but the Stormont Assembly will be briefed today on the Irish Government measures.

In todays statement Mr Varadkar said "For the past few weeks, the Government and our public services have been focused on the impact of the virus. In that time, we have taken several important and unprecedented measures to protect public health. We have been preparing for all eventualities.

The Taoiseach continued "Our own National Public Health Emergency Team met last night and has issued new advice to Government. We are acting on that advice today. There will be many more cases.  More people will get sick and unfortunately, we must face the tragic reality that some people will die.

Coronavirus advice at Dublin Airport this week. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Coronavirus advice at Dublin Airport this week. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

"The virus is all over the world. It will continue to spread but it can be slowed. Its impact can be reduced making it easier for our health service to cope and giving our scientists more time to develop better testing, treatments and a vaccine. It is important to remember that the disease effects will be mild for the majority of people especially the young and healthy.
We know that older people and those with chronic diseases are at real risk. We have a duty as a society to protect ourselves and above all to protect others - our parents and grandparents, our family and friends, co-workers and neighbours.

"We have not witnessed a pandemic of this nature in living memory. This is unchartered territory. "

The Measures

From tomorrow until March 29th Schools, colleges, and childcare facilities will close. Where possible, teaching will be done on-line or remotely. Cultural institutions will close. 
The Government is advising that all indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled.

Arrangements are being made to ensure that everyone entering Ireland through our ports and airports is fully informed and self-isolates if they develop symptoms.

The public are asked to continue to go to work if you can but where possible should work from home. In order to reduce unnecessary face to face interaction in the workplace, break times and working times should be staggered and meetings done remotely or by phone.

Public transport will continue to operate.

The shops will remain open and plans are in place to ensure that supply chains will not be interrupted.

Restaurants, cafes and other businesses can stay open but should look at ways that they can implement the public health advice on social distancing.

As a general rule, outside of work people should seek to reduce social interactions as much as possible. 

You can play your part by hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, and seeking medical advice if you develop symptoms. This is now more important than ever.

The Taoiseach added "I know that some of this is coming as a real shock and it is going involve big changes in the way we live our lives. 
I know that I am asking people to make enormous sacrifices.

"We’re doing it for each other. Together, we can slow the virus in its tracks and push it back. Acting together, as one nation, we can save many lives.

"Our economy will suffer. It will bounce back.  Lost time in school or college will be recovered. In time, our lives will go back to normal."

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