Evictions banned as emergency Covid-19 measures take effect

A ban on evictions is to be implemented for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Evictions banned as emergency Covid-19 measures take effect

Additional reporting by Eoin English, and Neil Michael

A ban on evictions is to be implemented for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Government yesterday approved a series of emergency measures, brought by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, to protect tenants who have been impacted by the crisis.

Moratoriums on evictions and rent increases are being introduced for the duration of the emergency to ensure people can stay in their homes during the crisis.

The notice period for tenancies of less than six months is also being increased from 28 to 90 days as Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty revealed the Government expects the emergency to cost up to 400,000 jobs.

The measures are temporary, and will last for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis, after which will revert to normal arrangements.

The move comes as a third person was confirmed to have died from Covid-19 and a further 191 people tested positive for the virus. There are now 557 confirmed cases in Ireland.

It was also announced that it could be up to three weeks before we see the impact of social distancing, while the number of test centres, at the end of this week, will increase to 32.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has fast-tracked the graduation of more than 300 new gardaí to “bolster high-visibility policing and community engagement in response to Covid-19”.

The 319 recruits will be sworn in at Templemore’s Garda College in a ceremony attended by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan today.

They will bring to 14,750 the number of serving gardaí and will be deployed in the coming weeks.

As well as releasing the latest confirmed cases, the Department of Health provided analysis of the first 350 cases of people with Covid-19.

It shows 55% are male and 43% are female and a total of 26 clusters have been identified. The average age of confirmed cases is 43 and, while 31% of cases have been hospitalised, 2% — seven cases — have been admitted to intensive care units.

Dublin has the highest number of cases at 172, followed by Cork at 62 and Limerick at 14.

Of the first 350 cases affected, 84 are associated with healthcare workers and 28 with foreign travel.

From today, health workers at two of the country’s biggest hospitals will be screened before they start work. An estimated 3,000 staff at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and Cork University Maternity Hospital will be screened when they report for duty as Covid-19 infection-control measures are ramped up.

It is understood that large marquees will be erected on CUH grounds through which all medical, healthcare, and non-medical staff will have to pass before being cleared to enter the buildings.

Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer in the Department of Health, said of the latest Covid-19 death: “I would like to extend my condolences to the family and friends of this patient.

“It is too early to see any impact of our social distancing measures. This data underscores the importance of younger people to rigorously follow public health advice and social distancing measures.”

Breda Smyth, HSE director of public health medicine, said: “Healthcare workers are at the frontline of this pandemic. While it is heartening to see social-distancing measures taken seriously across society, this must continue in order to protect the most vulnerable and support our healthcare staff throughout this pandemic.”

It was also decided yesterday that this year’s Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate oral and practical examinations have been cancelled indefinitely on foot of the pandemic, with full marks to be allotted to all students involved.

Mr Varadkar spoke by phone with British prime minister Boris Johnson last night. They discussed school closures, North and in the Republic, how to co-operate to battle the virus, and developments in Europe.

A Government statement said: “They agreed on the need to keep in contact and align their actions, in so far as possible, on the matter.”

It also emerged last night that Ikea is the latest company to shut its doors because of the pandemic, following Brown Thomas and Arnotts.

The Swedish furniture giant’s flagship store in Ballymun

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Key points

New emergency laws provide for mass gatherings to be shut down and give powers to order groups of people in areas to stay indoors. The laws also allow for the detention of a person, if a medical recommendation has been given, if they refuse to self-isolate;

One infected person could infect more than 400 others within 30 days, it has been claimed;

More than 58,000 people have applied for Covid-19 unemployment payment;

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty announced a move to pay weekly social welfare payments on a fortnightly basis instead to aid with social distancing;

Charities express concerns at a likely rise in domestic and sexual violence as the “pressure cooker” in homes builds due to Covid-19 measures;

Port of Cork has suspended cruise liner calls;

Up to 1,000 people around the country have been asked not to attend for jury duty for Circuit Criminal Court sittings for the month of April.

Housing Minister in self-isolation

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is in self-isolation for precautionary reasons after visiting family abroad.

He is the first member of the Government to self-isolate.

The Irish Examiner can reveal that he has been in self-isolation for almost a week. His officials said that the minister had “not been in direct physical contact with any colleagues”.

Mr Murphy’s spokesman has confirmed that the minister is in self-quarantine.

“He is, as a precaution,” he said. “He is keeping a full work schedule, like many across the country.

“He has maintained a full work schedule via phone and teleconference like many across the country at the moment. He has not been in direct physical contact with any colleagues.” However, one Cabinet member confirmed last night that senior ministers hadnot been told that Mr Murphy is in self-isolation for precautionary reasons.

“I didn’t know. We weren’t told anything. I must send him a text,” said a member.

— Juno McEnroe

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