The majority of betting shops appear set to close in Ireland within the next 48 hours and will remain closed until March 29th.
The Irish Bookmakers Association, which claims to be the largest representative body of the bookmaking industry in Ireland, said on Monday evening the “vast majority” of its members will shut.
The move includes Paddy Power, which confirmed it will close all its shops from Tuesday morning until March 29th.
It said in a statement: “In line with the spirit and letter of the social distancing guidelines from the government in the Republic of Ireland we are closing all Paddy Power betting shops in the Republic of Ireland from tomorrow morning until March 29.
“This is a developing situation and we will review all necessary measures as matters progress with safety of our employees and customers foremost in our minds.”
Boylesports announced it will close its 278 shops in Ireland at 8.0pm on Wednesday evening until March 29th at the earliest.
The IBA spokeswoman Sharon Byrne said: "The decision has been taken by most operators to close their doors in the next day to 48 hours.
“Social distancing is an issue and whilst we have measures in place you can’t guarantee it at the counter at the ‘off’ of a race.
“So each operator has had a look at their business. Not everyone – I can’t force people to close. But the vast majority of my members have agreed to close in the next 48 hours.”
The news comes on the back of plummeting share prices for the major bookmaking firms. Shares in the Paddy Power parent company, Flutter, fell 20 per cent at the opening of trade in Dublin on Monday morning.
An IBA statement said on Monday evening: “The decision was made by operators after discussions about the clear Irish government guidance that has been issued around social distancing.
“The decision lies with each retailer whether they close their doors and how they look after and inform their staff and customers, along with giving customers the opportunity to collect outstanding winnings in the process. The IBA will continue to monitor the situation with its members in advance of March 29 and its offices will remain open throughout the period.
Byrne added: ““It is very important that the retail betting sector acts responsibly and plays its part in the efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland.
“Operators continue to adhere to the advices given by the Government and most will look to close their doors in the next couple of days once staff and customers have been informed.”