Leo Varadkar announces closure of schools, colleges and public facilities
Public services will shut down from later today.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced that schools, colleges, and all public facilities will be shut down in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The Taoiseach made the remarks from Washington DC, where he is currently on a state visit for St. Patrick's Day.
"There will be many more cases, more people will get sick, and we must face the reality that some people will die," Varadkar said, referring to the new measures as "important and unprecedented."
From 6pm today (12 March), the containment measures will remain in place until 29 March. Schools, colleges, childcare and cultural institutions will close.
Varadkar also said that indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 and outdoor mass gatherings of over 500 should be cancelled. Additionally, businesses have been instructed to allow remote working where possible.
Varadkar has said shops, restaurants and cafes can remain open, and that plans are in place to facilitate to the supply chain. Public transport is also expected to continue.
The Taoiseach also recommended that people reduce social interaction as much as possible.
"Acting together, we can save many lives," the Taoiseach said.
Varadkar's announcement follows Donald Trump's decision to ban travel from the Schengen Zone to the US (Ireland and the United Kingdom are currently exempt from this ban). EU leaders have since said that Trump took this action unilaterally and without any consultation.
As of 12 March, the Republic of Ireland has seen 43 cases of coronavirus, and one death.