Irish police have promised high-visibility patrols to “encourage” people to adhere to new coronavirus restrictions on public life.
It follows the announcement of further restrictions by Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar on Friday night.
For two weeks, until Easter Sunday, everyone must stay at home unless buying food or if their work is deemed essential.
The taoiseach said “now is the time for further action”.
Twenty two people with coronavirus have died in the country, with 2,121 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
The move mirrors restrictions brought into the United Kingdom on Tuesday.
People have been told they should travel no further than two kilometres from their home unless it is absolutely necessary.
‘Leave popular locations’
In their statement, gardaí acknowledged that the “vast majority of the public are being responsible” and they were asking the public to “continue to be responsible, not to attend popular locations for overly long periods”.
Garda Deputy Commissioner of policing and security, John Twomey, said the high-visibility patrols were aimed at providing “re-assurance and social distancing advice to the public”.
While gardaí encourage the public to maintain social distancing guidelines, the instruction from the taoiseach for people not to go further than two kilometres from their homes is not mentioned in the statement.
Mr Varadkar said he hoped people would comply with the limit, but gardaí would be available to police it.
“Freedom was hard won in our country and it jars with us to limit liberty, even temporarily,” Mr Varadkar said.
Late on Friday, a new list of essential businesses that can remain open was also published by the Irish government.
- Shops selling food and drinks
- Retail of household consumer products for cleaning and safety
- Shops for medical and orthopaedic goods
- Petrol stations and home heating suppliers
- Laundrettes and drycleaners
- Banks, Post Offices and Credit Unions
- Shops selling safety supply equipment
Mr Varadkar said he was “appealing to every man woman and child to make these sacrifices out of love for each other”.
The number of intensive care unit admissions due to coronavirus had doubled in the Republic of Ireland since Monday and transmission in the community now accounts for more than half of all cases.
“Everyone must stay at home other than to travel to and from work, only when work is an essential service, to shop for food or collect a meal, to collect health or medical products, to take brief exercise as long as you adhere to physical distancing,” he said.
“All public gatherings are prohibited, sadly this includes social family visits,
“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.”
Simon Harris told RTÉ’s Late Late Show that a list of essential workers would be provided soon.
He added: “We can all feel powerless but individuals have huge power – more than the HSE and the government. If you do as we ask and that is to stay at home, then you will save lives.”
Ireland’s chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said measures implemented so far had been working, but more was needed.
He said the daily increase in cases has slowed down, “relative to what we might have expected a number of weeks ago”.
“But this does not tell us that the worse is over – it tells us that we are having some early impact,” he said.
Dr Holohan said they wanted to “turn the infection from a community-based one, to a household-based one, and thus slow down its spread and save lives.”
The taoiseach said that all visits to hospitals and prisons will cease with some exceptions on compassionate grounds.
He said that people over the age of 70 and some vulnerable people must shield or ‘cocoon’ during the two-week period.
He also said that travel to offshore islands will be limited to residents.