*PHOTO: John Mangan
Schools, colleges and cultural institutions in Clare and across the country are to close from 6pm today along with several outdoor events.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made the announcement from Washington DC shortly before 11:30am (Irish time). The closures will last until March 29th as Ireland enters a pandemic stage due to the coronavirus. “There will be many more cases. More people will get sick and unfortunately, we must face the tragic reality that some people will die. The virus is all over the world. It will continue to spread but it can be slowed. Its impact can be reduced making it easier for our health service to cope and giving our scientists more time to develop better testing, treatments and a vaccine. It is important to remember that the disease effects will be mild for the majority of people especially the young and healthy”.
He advised that indoor gatherings of 100 and outdoor events with expected attendances of 500 plus should be cancelled. As a result it is expected that the 2020 GAA championship is in doubt. The CCC are holding a meeting on Thursday morning to discuss the impact.Basketball Ireland had on Wednesday announced the indefinite postponement of all competitions.
Varadkar noted that the pandemic coronavirus is going to have a significant impact on the Irish economy but is confident it will bounce back. Crèches and public facilities are also to close but no restrictions have been unveiled for shops and cafes. Tourism attractions and museums are also to be closed to the public.
Workplaces are not included in this section of indoor gatherings. Remote working has been suggested where possible.
“We know that older people and those with chronic diseases are at real risk. We have a duty as a society to protect ourselves and above all to protect others – our parents and grandparents, our family and friends, co-workers and neighbours. We have not witnessed a pandemic of this nature in living memory. This is unchartered territory. We said we would take the right actions at the right time. We have to move now to have the greatest impact.” the Taoiseach stated.
RTÉ have announced that audiences will be dropped from live programming as of Friday. Negotiations between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on forming a new Government have been deferred.