Coronavirus Q&A: What do the new government restrictions mean for people in Ireland?

Coronavirus Q&A: What do the new government restrictions mean for people in Ireland?

It was perhaps the most dystopian and surreal moment of the Covid-19 crisis when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar quoted one of the most memorable lines from the world of science fiction.

“There's no fate but what we make for ourselves”, made famous by Sarah and John Connor in the Terminator movie series, was solemnly said by Mr Varadkar as he announced the starkest social restrictions on movement in the modern history of the State.

From now until April 11, there will be what the Taoiseach called “very restrictive” movements, but said he did not want to use the term “lockdown”.

Chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, acknowledged just how restrictive the measures would be, but said he hoped through bringing in these measures, they would stem the reach of the virus.

So what does it all mean for Irish people?

What are the major new restrictions on movement?

Until April 12, which is Easter Sunday, everybody must stay at home.

Is it a lockdown?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he did not like to use that word, but essentially it is as close as you can get to a lockdown without naming it so.

What are the exceptions?

Travelling to and from work, only where the work is an essential health, social care or other essential service, and cannot be done from home.

What about shopping?

Shopping for food or household items or meal collection is permitted.

What about prescriptions and medical appointments?

Attending medical appointments or collection of medicines and other health products is permitted.

How are essential carers affected?

Providing vital care to children, elderly or vulnerable people is permitted.

Is exercise banned?

Not entirely. Personal exercise is restricted, except within 2km of your own home. Children from your own home may accompany as long as you adhere to two-metre distancing.

What happens if you stray more than 2km from your home?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said those who do so may be liable to be detained by gardaí, who will be policing the restriction on movement.

It sounds draconian. Is it?

Mr Varadkar said the best way to enforce the restrictions was by consent and cooperation instead of the need for gardaí to do so. The measures, he said, are to protect the healthcare service from being overwhelmed.

What is ‘cocooning’?

Cocooning will be introduced for citizens over 70 years, and specified categories of people considered extremely vulnerable to Covid-19. According to the HSE, over 70s and extremely vulnerable citizens are "strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact".

Visits from people who provide essential support to you such as healthcare, personal support with daily needs or social care should continue, but carers and care workers must stay away if they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19. All people coming to those homes should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on arrival to your house and often whilst they are there.

How will those over 70 and considered vulnerable interact with people?

An Post workers will be on hand to check on those affected, he said. Community check-ins will also be vital.

How will public transport run until April 12?

Only essential workers and those providing essential services may be allowed to use public transport.

How are the restrictions going to be enforced to make sure of compliance?

It will involve thousands of Gardaí on foot, bike and mobile patrols. Gardaí said they will seek to encourage people to maintain the necessary public health measures, but will intervene where venues/ outlets are not in compliance or where groups of people are not adhering to recommended measures.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

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