New Government Measures to Prevent Further Spread of COVID-19

Taking Social Distancing to a new height. A man in a lift working on Fagin’s Bar at Hartnett’s Corner, Castleisland last evening. Photograph: John Reidy

Last night’s unleashing of the new and more powerful measures by the Department of Health and the Department of the Taoiseach were announced under five separate heading – but all united in the battle to confine and, ultimately, control the spread of the Coronavirus or Covid-19.

Thomas Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ comes to mind as we come to terms with measures and ways of living which are so out of kilter with the way we were. However, this is it and by these ways we’re going to get through the strangest days we’ve ever known.

The headings under which the new measures were announced are as follows: 1. Community Health; 2. Essential services; 3. Health considerations; 4. Transport and Travel and 5. Legislation and Regulation.

Measures in Place to April 12th.

These measures are in place from midnight Friday 27th March until Sunday 12 April.

Community Health

Stay at home in all circumstances, except in the following situations:

1. To travel to and from work where the work is considered an essential service. The full list of essential workers will be published as early as possible.

In the meantime, the government advice for businesses and services which consider themselves essential service, is to remain open, pending publication of the list.

2. To attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products for yourself, your family or someone who is vulnerable or cocooning.

3. For vital family reasons including caring for children, elderly or vulnerable people but excluding social family visits.

4. To take brief individual physical exercise within your locality, which may include children from your household within two kilometres of your home and adhering to strict two metre social distancing measures.

5. You cannot arrange a gathering with anybody you do not live with.

6. Cocooning will be introduced for those over 70 years of age and those who are extremely medically vulnerable to COVID-19.

Essential Services

1. Everyone who can work from home must work from home. This includes essential workers and workers in essential government, utilities or other functions.

2. Adult community education centres and local community centres are closed

3. All essential services should ensure safe working conditions are in place

4. specific advice will be available from the Health and Safety Authority

Health Considerations

1. All non-essential surgery, health procedures and other non-essential health services are postponed

2. All visits to hospitals, residential healthcare centres, other residential settings are prisons are stopped with specific exemptions on compassionate grounds

3. Pharmacists are to be allowed by law to dispense medicines outside the dates spelled out in prescriptions according to their own professional judgement

4. Manufacturers will be called on to adapt their manufacturing capacity to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), equipment, masks and other essential products for national market, including hand gels and other essential medicines and products by pharmacies

Transport and Travel

Travel restrictions will be implemented as follows:

1. There will be a nationwide restriction on travel outside of 2 kilometres from your place of residence (except for the restrictions listed above.

2. Public transport and passenger travel will be restricted to essential workers.

3. Travel to Ireland’s offshore islands is limited only to residents of those islands

4. Local authorities will relax on-street parking laws to meet the travel needs of essential workers

5. The arrival of personal non-national maritime leisure vessels is banned – except to exceptions as ‘port in a storm.’

Legislation and Regulation

The measure above will be reflected in the regulations to be made under the Health, Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest, Act 2000 and will be enforced by An Garda Síochána.