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Ireland may ease coronavirus restrictions from mid-April

CoronavirusMar 28, 2020 11:00AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dublin

By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland hopes to be in a position in two weeks to tweak or remove some of its new highly restrictive coronavirus-related measures if it can slow down the rate of admissions to intensive care units, Health Minister Simon Harris said.

Ireland's prime minister ordered citizens on Friday to stay home until April 12 to help slow the spread, telling them they can only leave to shop for groceries, for brief individual physical exercise or to make absolutely essential family visits.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland rose to 2,121 on Friday from 1,819 a day earlier, with three more deaths bringing the total fatalities to 22.

"Will we be in a position on April 12 where life in Ireland can return to normal? Absolutely not. Let's be honest with each other, these are measures that we are going to need continue to work at," Harris told national broadcaster RTE on Saturday.

"Do we hope to be in a position in two weeks' time to say that we've made progress and some of the measures can be tweaked, removed, changed? Absolutely.

"The measures that we put in place last night were so significant that they cannot be kept in place for too long. You cannot ask people to sustain this for a very long time."

Seventy-one patients were in intensive care units (ICU) by Thursday, a near doubling in three days. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned on Friday that ICU units would be at capacity within a few days given the rate of the spread.

There was some confusion over who could and could not go to work on Saturday with the government yet to publish an updated list of essential services. All construction bar any healthcare- critical projects would be shut down, European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee confirmed to national broadcaster RTE.

Police mounted a major nationwide operation, with officers on horseback patrolling parks to ensure people were not gathering outside their household units and traffic police stopping cars to check journeys beyond 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) were essential trips only.

With so much economic activity halted, the head of the body representing Irish banks said lenders were processing more than 28,000 three-month mortgage breaks for customers whose incomes have been cut by the coronavirus outbreak.

Ireland may ease coronavirus restrictions from mid-April
 

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Comments (2)
Manciu Alexandru Eugen
Manciu Alexandru Eugen Mar 28, 2020 11:49AM ET
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As usually, people choose to ignore the recommendations and do what they know best... They choose to not care. Police should step in, patrol more and spread fines everywhere, if you want to see parks and streets empty. Don't think that if 95% of the people obey and 5% don't, we'll sort this out. I think when we'll get to 10-20k cases people will start to think twice before going out for a jogging or walk in the park or whatever stupid activity are they doing outside.
Alexis Martial
Alexis Martial Mar 28, 2020 5:38AM ET
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Let's see the number of new cases stabilize than start dropping and then only we can talk
 
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