Ireland to extend coronavirus lockdown to 18 May

1 May 2020, 19:28

Leo Varadkar has announced lockdown will remain in place through to 18 May
Leo Varadkar has announced lockdown will remain in place through to 18 May. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Republic of Ireland will extend its lockdown until 18 May, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Ireland has faced strict rules on social distancing and travel in the fight against Covid-19.

People have been told to stay home, unless they are key workers and are needed to go to work, or attending medical appointments or necessary family reasons, like going grocery shopping.

Anyone over the age of 70 has been told to stay in their homes, not even leaving for exercise.

Although exercise has been permitted, people must stay within 2km of their home and meeting with anyone outside of their household is strictly forbidden.

Those found to be flouting these rules can be fined up to €2,500 and face jail sentences of up to six months.

But although the measures are set to be extended through until 18 May, Mr Varadkar said two of the measures will be relaxed from Tuesday.

People will now be permitted to exercise up to 5km away from their homes
People will now be permitted to exercise up to 5km away from their homes. Picture: PA

The exercise travel limit will be extended to 5km, and over 70s will be permitted to leave their homes for isolated exercise.

Speaking from Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Varadkar warned a "risk of a second wave of the virus is present" and said the country can only move to the next phase "if the virus stays under control".

If it doesn't then Ireland may need to go back to a previous stage.

"In any scenario, at least until we have a vaccine, or an effective treatment, there will be a long-term need for physical distancing, good hygiene, respiratory hygiene, regular cleaning and for people to stay at home and isolate if they're sick," he said.

"It will take some time for our lives to get back to normal, to a new normal, but it will happen.

"So on the 18th of May, Ireland begins to reopen and begins that journey to a new normal.

"From that day outdoor work, like construction and landscaping, will resume.

Nurses wear PPE at a testing site in the Republic
Nurses wear PPE at a testing site in the Republic. Picture: PA

"Some retail outlets, like garden centres, hardware stores, repair shops will reopen and some outdoor sporting and fitness activities in small groups will be allowed."

Mr Varadkar also added that schools and universities will be permitted to open from September.
The total number of people who have died from Covid-19 in Ireland is now 1,265.

The latest confirmed coronavirus cases bring the total to 20,833 cases in Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said: "I know it's been difficult.

"The uncertainty about when things will get back to normal and the fear of the virus itself.

"As a nation, our physical health has been attacked, our mental health eroded.

"Our economy battered and our society put to the ultimate test.

"Many people are lonely during the pain of isolation.

"Many people are grieving in silence and many have lost their jobs."

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