Leo Varadkar announces shutdown of schools and public facilities in response to coronavirus concerns

Leo Varadkar announced a general shutdown of public institutions commencing from 6pm today as a way to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Leo Varadkar during a press conference. Today he announced measure against the coronavirus pandemic

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced that a nationwide general shutdown of schools, colleges, childcare facilities, and cultural institutions will commence from 6pm today following growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus. 

Addressing media from Blair House in Washington DC, Varadkar has stated that the general shutdown will go into effect today and strongly advises people to work from home. An Taoiseach is attending the annual St Patrick’s Day visit to the United States, which itself has recently suspended all travel routes with mainland Europe excepting Ireland and Britain. 

Varadkar said, “From 6pm today, the following measures will be put in place, and they will stay in place until March 29 – schools, colleges and childcare facilities will close from tomorrow. Where possible, teaching will be done online or remotely. Cultural institutions will close as well.”

An Taoiseach further stated, “Our advice is that all indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled.” He continued, “In order to reduce unnecessary face to face interaction in the workplace, break times, and working times should be staggered, and meetings done remotely or by phone.”

Commencement of a general shutdown nationwide in response to coronavirus will run until March 29, as Varadkar stated, “We’ve not witnessed a pandemic of this nature in living memory and we’re in unchartered territory.” The announcement follows the first report of a death in Ireland due to the virus. He said, “We need the public and businesses to take a sensible, level headed and responsible approach during the difficult time.”

Restaurants, cafes, and shops are permitted to stay open, however, An Taoiseach was insistent that business owners be mindful of ways they can implement public health advice and social distancing. Public transport will also continue to operate.

Due to experts estimating that Covid-19 will peak in May and June, there have been ongoing discussions amongst Pride organisers from Africa, Asia, North America, Europe and Oceania to address the best course of action. Yesterday, Dublin Pride and organisers of Mother Pride Block Party responded to the public’s concerns over the virus. 

Festival Director Jed Dowling released the following statement, “The board and management of Dublin Pride are very mindful of the current situation regarding cornonavirus (Covid-19) and of our responsibility to act in the best interests of the community. We will follow all advice given by the relevant authorities and are contingency planning for the possibility that the date may need to move out.”

There are currently 61 cases of coronavirus across Ireland. Varadkar has advised that by acting now, it will have the greatest long term impact. He further stated, “I know that some of this is coming as a real shock and it’s going to involve big changes in the way we live our lives.”

To stop the spread of the virus, public health officials advise the public to do the following:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or if not a tissue, use your sleeve
  • Avoid contact with those already unwell

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