Coronavirus: What are the new measures announced by the Government?
Can I leave my house? What are the essential shops that can open? What are the new social welfare payments?
The Government has announced a series of additional restrictions to take effect from midnight in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Ireland.
The main measures are:
- All theatres, clubs, gyms, leisure centres, hairdressers, betting shops, marts, markets, casinos, bingo halls, libraries and similar outlets are to shut
- All hotels to only offer rooms for essential non-social and non-tourist reasons
- All non-essential retail outlets to close to the public
- All essential outlets such as supermarkets and chemists to implement physical distancing controls
-All restaurants and cafes are limited to provide takeaway and delivery services
- All sporting events, including those behind closed doors, are cancelled
-All playgrounds and holiday/caravan parks to close
- All places of worship to restrict numbers entering at any one time
- A ban on all organised indoor and outdoor social events.
- People should stay home if at all possible apart from going to the shops for essential supplies such as food and medicine or medical and dental appointments.
- Other allowable journeys are for those travelling to take care of others or to take physical exercise.
- Social gatherings are to be limited to a maximum of four people unless they are from the same household, while no unnecessary travel should take place within Ireland or overseas.
-People should only leave home to go to work where attendance at a workplace is essential, while non-essential indoor visits to other people’s homes should be avoided.
-In addition parents will not be asked to pay creche fees for up to three months under a government scheme that will see childcare worker wages topped up beyond the 70 per cent level announced for others.
- Gardaí will step up interventions to ensure the new measures are being complied with by businesses or where groups of people are not adhering to rules on physical distancing.
- There will also be an increased presence of park rangers and gardaí in parks and public places to ensure physical distancing is being observed.
-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said existing measures will extend to April 19th and advised the public that it was for “the long haul”.
The Government has also announced details of a national Covid-19 Income Support Scheme to provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis.
-The main measure includes a temporary wage subsidy of 70 per cent of take home pay up to a weekly maximum tax free amount of €410 to allow firms to keep paying their staff.
-Workers who have already lost their jobs will receive an enhanced Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment which is being increased from the earlier sum of €203 to €350 per week.
-The same amount will also be the weekly sum for those claiming the Covid-19 illness payment.
-Self-employed workers are eligible to apply for the unemployment payment of €350 per week directly from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection as opposed to the Revenue scheme.
-It has estimated the cost of the series of financial supports at €3.7 billion over a 12-week period
Essential retail outlets
The National Public Health Emergency Team has recommended that all non-essential retail outlets will close to members of the public and all other retail outlets are to implement social distancing. But what are the essential retail outlets? Here are the outlets that the Government consider to be essential:
- Retail and wholesale sale of food, beverages and newspapers in non-specialised and specialised stores
- Retail sale of household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences and businesses
-Pharmacies/Chemists and retailers providing pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical or dispensing services
-Retail sale of selling medical and orthopaedic goods in specialised stores.
-Fuel stations and heating fuel providers.
-Retailers involved in the repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycle repair and related facilities (e.g. tyre sales and repairs).
-Retail sale of essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including animal feed and medicines, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding.
-Laundries and Drycleaners.
-Banks, Post Offices and Credit Unions.
-Retail sale of safety supply stores (for e.g. work clothes, Personal Protective Equipment).
-Hardware stores, builders’ merchants and stores that provide hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance, sanitation and farm equipment, supplies and tools essential for gardening/farming/agriculture.
-Retail sale of office products and services for individuals working from home and for businesses.
-Retailers providing electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home
Guidelines for shops
While those stores are allowed to remain open, they must implement social distancing practices:
- Ensure adequate distancing between customers and retail assistants in line with public health guidelines.
- Only let people into the store in small groups and ensure spaces are not crowded.
- Manage queues inside and outside the door to maintain necessary social distancing.
- All retail outlets are encouraged to designate certain times of the day to facilitate vulnerable groups who may need to use their services.
- Where practicable and in so far as is possible, parents are encouraged to limit bringing their children with them when visiting essential retail outlets.
-All retailers are encouraged to provide on-line services where that is possible and appropriate to minimise footfall.
-All such retailers are encouraged to offer contactless payment arrangements.
-All other retailers, as in those deemed to be non-essential, can continue to operate if they can do so on an on-line basis having regard to general social distancing measures appropriate to all workplaces.