DUBLIN | The entire Irish population will be re-confined from Wednesday night to Thursday to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, with Ireland becoming the first EU country to take such a step, announced on Monday its Prime Minister Micheal Martin.
• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic
The re-containment will take effect Wednesday at midnight local for six weeks, he said, while stressing that the schools would remain open.
All non-essential businesses will have to close, bars and restaurants will only be able to serve take-out food, the head of government said.
“We ask everyone in the country to stay at home,” added Micheal Martin.
Only people with essential jobs will be “allowed to travel to work,” he said.
The Irish will also only be able to leave their homes to exercise within a three-mile radius of their place of residence, under penalty of fines.
According to Martin, schools and nurseries will remain open “because we cannot afford, and will not allow, that the future of our children and young people is another victim of this disease”.
Visits between different homes and indoor events will be banned, even though professional sport will be allowed behind closed doors.
The Prime Minister admitted that the Irish measures were “arguably the toughest in Europe”, but “further action is needed now”.
“If we unite our efforts for the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas properly,” he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed at least 1,852 people in Ireland, according to the latest official figures.
After a peak of 77 deaths per day in April, the number of daily deaths has fallen to less than ten. None were reported for Monday.
But like many other countries in Europe, Ireland is facing a surge in contaminations, with 1,031 new cases confirmed on Monday.