Taoiseach Leo Varadker

  • Ireland is in the middle of a national and global emergency.

    That's according to Taoiseach Leo Varadker, who made a rare Ministerial Address to the nation last night on the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Government has announced that emergency legislation is to be put before the Dáil tomorrow.

    It follows the confirmation last night of 69 new cases of covid-19 in the Republic -- bringing the total to 292.

    5 of the new cases are in the north/western region, and 3 in the West.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the outbreak was unprecedented in our lifetimes, and restrictions may continue for months.

    He warned that this is just "the calm before the storm - before the surge" and said it could take months for the coronavirus to be brought under control.

    The Taoiseach also said older people and those with a long term illness will be advised at some point to stay at home for several weeks, during the coronavirus crisis.

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    A three month agreement has been made for private hospitals to operate as public facilities.

    19 hospitals with a capacity of under 2,000 beds with 47 intensive care units will be used by the HSE - however the total cost of the deal has not been finalised.

    The hospitals will treat patients with coronavirus and those who need elective surgeries, and aims to relieve pressure on the current system.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says any people who use the facilities will be treated as public patients:

  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the country's schools, colleges and childcare facilities are to close in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    From 6pm this evening, schools, colleges and childcare facilities will close.

    In relation to cultural events, indoor gatherings of more than 100 people will not be permitted while outdoor events of more than 500 people will not be allowed.

    Mr Varadkar made the announcement in Washington DC where he is visiting as part of the St Patrick's Day celebrations, much of which have been cancelled in light of coronavirus.

    More details on the closures will be made public throughout the day.

    There has been one death in Ireland of a person with Covid-19 out of 43 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he's confident that that the country WILL be able to move into the second phase of easing Covid-19 restrictions next week.

    At a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting yesterday evening, Mr Varadkar said a final decision on moving into phase two of the roadmap for reopening the country will be made by Cabinet on Friday.

    In a statement after the meeting, Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Martin Heydon said the Taoiseach was "confident the country would be able to move into Phase Two of the roadmap to ease restrictions in the Covid-19 battle next Monday."

    The second phase will see the ban on non-essential journeys eased to allow people travel up to 20km from their homes. People, including those cocooning, will be allowed invite small groups of people into their homes.

    Over 70s will also be able to visit supermarkets at set times during the day.

    More people will be allowed attend funerals and small retail outlets that can adhere to social distancing guidelines will be permitted to reopen.

    Sports clubs, including GAA and football teams, will be able to hold training sessions – but will still be banned from playing matches. Libraries are also scheduled to reopen.

  • The Taoiseach says he's increasingly confident that Coronavirus restrictions can begin to be unwound from next week.

    The National Public Health Emergency Team is meeting today and its advice will be considered by cabinet Ministers tomorrow.

    Leo Varadkar has warned that some social distancing and hygiene practices will be around for a long time, and said travel to the EU won't return for months.

    However, the Taoiseach says the journey back to normal life should begin next week.

    Meanwhile, the HSE is hoping turnaround times for a Covid test will be three days, from next Monday.

    The Health Executive says it's been working to update its technology to automate results.

    CEO of the HSE, Paul Reid, says it will take three days from reporting symptoms to getting a result.

  • The Taoiseach has said the country is not in a position yet to be able to ease coronavirus restrictions.

    Leo Varadkar has also encouraged people to ignore speculation on how restrictions might be lifted over the coming weeks.

    A decision will be made by the cabinet on Friday as to whether there can be an easing of the lockdown measures.

    But Mr Varadkar says, as things stand, it might not be possible:

  • The new 50-bed ward at Portiuncla Hospital in Ballinasloe has now gone out to tender, and construction should get underway this year.

    That's according to Taoiseach Leo Varadker who has reaffirmed his party's commitment to the Co Galway hospital.

    During a visit to Ballinasloe in recent days where he canvassed with local FG candidate Aisling Dolan, Mr Varadker said Portiuncla Hospital will be upgraded, with the provision of a new building to accommodate 50 beds now in the tender phase for enabling works....

  • Taoiseach Leo Varadker will visit Co Mayo this Friday, taking in Ballina, Castlebar and Ireland West Airport Knock.

    The Taoiseach will visit Ireland West Airport Knock at lunchtime on Friday to officially open the €11.2 million newly-overlaid runway before travelling to Castlebar where he will officially open a second building at Fort Wayne Metals in the county town, and then onto Ballina, to visit the Military Barracks where a Digital & Innovation Hub is being developed.