The Government has announced that schools across the country are to close to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The decision applies to all schools and third-level institutions. It will also apply to other public facilities. All these measures will take effect from 6pm today until 29 March.
Furthermore, all museums, galleries and tourism sites will shut. Mass gatherings of over 100 (indoor) and 500 (outdoor) are cancelled.
The significant development comes as confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland now stands at 43. One person has died from the virus here so far.
The decisions were announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the United States this morning, who said these measures would help to mitigate the effects of the virus here.
In a follow-up press conference in Dublin, Minister for Health Simon Harris said we have moved to the “delay phase” of the Covid-19 outbreak in Ireland while Tánaiste Simon Coveney admitted it’s an “awful lot to take in” and the “days and weeks ahead will be difficult”.
“Never before has such drastic action been taken in the face of a public health threat,” Coveney said.
Varadkar said earlier: “The following measures are being put in place, and they will stay in place until the 29 of March. Schools, colleges, and childcare facilities will close from tomorrow.Where possible teaching will be done online or remotely and cultural institutions will close as well.
Varadkar said there will be more cases and more people will get sick and “unfortunately we must face the tragic reality that some people will die”.
He said we have “not witnessed a pandemic of this nature in living history and we are in uncharted territory.”