Watch: Leo Varadkar bans travel further than 2km from home and over-70s to be 'cocooned' from midnight

 Leo Varadkar has announced a range of further restrictions on public movement in Ireland.

Leo Varadkar has announced a range of further restrictions on public movement in Ireland.

For the next two weeks, he said people must remain in their homes.

He said people could only leave their home in a limited number of circumstances, including essential work, food shopping, medical appointments, brief exercise and vital family reasons.

Main points: 

  • From midnight tonight, everybody must stay at home until April 12th except in specific circumstances
  • Exercise must take place within a 2km radius of your home
  • Over-70s  and those in high-risk categories will be 'cocooned' from midnight until Sunday April 12.
  • Public transport restricted for essential workers while more non-essential shops will be closed
  • All gatherings have also been banned
  • Social visits to relatives beyond the family unit at home would not be allowed.

“These are radical actions aimed at saving as many people’s lives as possible in the days and weeks ahead,” he said.

Mr Varadkar added that we “need to make these sacrifices, not out of self interest, but out of love for each other”

Mr Varadkar said there was not much else the government could do to restrict movement.

“There is not much more we could do in terms of restrictive measure,” he said.

Mr Varadkar highlighted that gardai had powers to police the restrictions but he expressed hope they would be achieved with the “consent and co-operation” of the public.

He acknowledged that freedom had been “hard won” in Ireland.

“I’m asking people to give meaning to our freedom and liberty by agreeing to these restrictions, restricting how we live our lives, so that others may live,” he said.

“We’re not prisoners of fate. We can influence what’s going to happen to us next. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”

The death toll now stands at 22. There were 302 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 announced on Friday, taking the total in Ireland to 2,121.

At the outset of an announcement on new measures to deal with the outbreak, Mr Varadkar said it was understood one of the latest fatalities in Ireland was a health care worker.

He said health chiefs were concerned that more than 50% of the confirmed cases in Ireland involved community transmission and that clusters were developing in places such as nursing homes and residential care settings.

“We believe that now is the time for these further actions,” he said.

“I said there would be a calm before the storm. And the aim of every single action that we’ve taken is to reduce the impact of that storm in our country, to slow the virus down, to push it back and to contain it.”

Health Minister Simon Harris acknowledged the steps would mean “intensive and difficult changes” for people’s way of life.

He said introducing the measures now may mean they would ultimately last for a shorter period than if they were put in place later in the outbreak.

“We need to stay the course and, put simply, we need to stay at home,” he said.

President Higgins signed the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020 after its passage through both houses of the Oireachtas parliament in Dublin.

It includes measures to provide income support for workers, prevent evictions and implement a rent freeze throughout the health crisis.

The President said the laws reflected a time of crisis.

“Extraordinary and difficult measures have been necessary as we try to stem the tide of increasing infection,” he said.

“The effects of those measures will become visible in the coming weeks.

“The legislation is emergency legislation for a time of crisis. It is appropriate that it has time limits and leaves our constitutional rights in place.

“These are difficult times, but our difficulties will come to an end. Let us make sure that, through the decisions and actions we take at present, we ensure the health and safety of each other, all of us together.”

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