BREAKING: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announces new Covid-19 measures and protections

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

Email:

fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

BREAKING: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announces new Covid-19 measures and protections

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has announced a long-list of new measures to help the public tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, and protections for employees and tenants around the country. 

Among the new measures are the closure of all non-essential services, a 70% wage subsidy, an increase in work and sick pay as a result of Covid-19, the use of private hospitals in the public health system, a major restriction on indoor and outdoor events, and the closure of schools.

Announcing the new measures at a press conference this Tuesday afternoon, Taoiseach Varadker said that all theatres, pubs, clubs, leisure centres, gyms, hairdressers, betting offices, casinos, bingo halls, libraries and other similar outlets are to shut. 

Social gatherings of no more than four people are allowed, unless they are from the same household. 

All hotels are to limit occupancy to essential non-commercial and non-tourist reasons, and all non-essential retail outlets are to close, while all other retail outlets are to implement physical distancing. 

He said that a list of essential retail outlets is to be provided. 

All cafes and restaurants have been advised to limit supply to take-aways and deliveries only. 

All sporting events have been cancelled, including those carried out behind closed doors. 

All playgrounds and caravan parks are to close also. 

All places of worship, such as churches and mosques, are to restrict numbers of people entering at any one time "to ensure adequate physical distancing". 

All indoor visits to other people's homes should be avoided, he said. 

He said that new powers afforded to the gardai will used "sparingly and only where necessary". 

"Lets all play our part to ensure they are not used at all. I believe a liberal democracy can do this without the need of authoritarian or draconian actions," he said. 

Schools and educational institutions will remain closed until April 19. 

EMPLOYEE PROTECTIONS

The Government is raising the Covid-19 unemployment and sick payment to €350 per week. He said the first payments will be made on Friday. The illness benefit can be topped up by employers. 

To encourage employers badly affected by the coronavirus to keep people on the payroll, the Government is introducing a significant subsidy. 

This will include co-funding the cost of 70% of salaries, up to a maximum of €38,000 a year. This means someone on a salary of €38,000 will get a maximum of €410 per week in take-home pay. 

"The cost of all this will be great — many billions of euros in the coming months. But we can bear it and we can repay it as a nation. We do so willingly because it is the right thing to do and because we owe it to our fellow citizens," he stated.