- 24 Mar 20
As had been widely predicted, a further and even more restrictive set of measures was announced today by the Government. These include a higher presence of Gardaí and park rangers in public places. But the most dramatic element is an extension of orders to close many retail businesses deemed 'non-essential'.
The Government has introduced a sweeping set of new restrictions, designed to curtail the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
Among the most dramatic is an order to close all of what are deemed non-essential retail outlets. This restriction will extend to markets, hairdressers, bookies, gyms, clubs, theatres and more. Restaurants and cafes have been ordered to provide only takeaway services.
So called 'places of worship’ – meaning churches, mosques, synagogues and so on – have escaped the strictures, though they will have to “restrict numbers visiting."
The government has also introduced new supports for employers, pledging to pay 70% of people’s salaries, up to a maximum of €38,000 a year per individual. While no details have yet been given, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has made the commitment that self-employed people will also be covered by the scheme.
The restrictions already in place – including the closure of venues, pubs and more – have been extended by a further three weeks until Sunday 19 April, an end-point that will also apply to the restrictions introduced today. However, that date may be seen as ambitious by many, with further extensions possible, depending on the extent to which the measures show the desired results.
The full list of new restrictions announced is as follows:
• All theatres, clubs, gyms, leisure centres, hairdressers, marts, markets, casinos, bingo halls, betting shops, libraries and other similar places to shut.
• All hotels and non essential retail outlets are to close – a list of these will be provided by the Government in due course.
• All cafes and restaurants are required to limit their services to take away and deliveries only.
• All sporting events are cancelled – including those which might have taken place behind closed doors.
• All playgrounds and holiday or caravan parks are to be closed.
• All 'places of worship' are to restrict numbers visiting.
There will also be new restrictions on personal movements and behaviour. People are instructed that:
• All household contacts of someone waiting for a test should restrict their movements.
• All non-essential visiting to other persons' homes should be avoided.
• While parks are not being closed, there will be an increased presence of park rangers and Gardaí in public places to ensure that physical distancing is being observed.
• All organised indoor and outdoor events of any size are banned.
• No further scheduled cruise ship trips to Ireland will be permitted.
However, factories and construction sites are not being asked to shut – the authorities aim to work with those who manage or run them, to ensure that physical distancing is observed.
The government is also planning to significantly increase the limit on cashless card transactions, to minimise the need for people to touch credit card machines.
Additional measures on social distancing are being introduced, in as far as practicable, to apply between clients and/or patients in confined settings, including:
• Long term care facilities, either for the elderly or people with special needs;
• Psychiatric institutions;
• Homeless shelters
The impact of this latest round of restrictions will clearly be to further shrink the everyday lives of citizens and to restrict the freedoms that people normally take for granted. And they will also ensure that the damage to the economic life of the country is even greater than had been predicted. However few people are arguing – with opposition politicians, if anything, demanding even more draconian restrictions.
Whether the measures announced today will be enough to stem the spread of the coronavirus remains to be seen. More than ever, we are into uncharted waters.