IRELAND is set to go into lockdown from 6pm today in a bid to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.
Leo Varadkar made the emergency announcement this morning, declaring that schools, colleges and childcare services will close as of tomorrow.
Restaurants and other service businesses will stay open, but the Taioseach advised that adhering to public health advice is now "more important than ever."
He also advised that outdoor gatherings of more than 100 should be cancelled and - where possible - people should work from home.
In a statement, Varadkar said: "From 6pm today, the following measure are being put in place, and they will stay in place until the 29th of March.
"Schools, colleges and child care facilities will close from tomorrow. Where possible teaching will done online or remotely.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced a series of measures, including the temporary closure of schools, colleges and childcare facilities, to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak | Read more: https://t.co/jr7d4agqCK pic.twitter.com/x1dBuGtaIQ
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 12, 2020
"Cultural institutions will close as well. Our advice is that all indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people, and outdoor mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled.
"Arrangements are being made to make sure that everyone entering Ireland through ports and airports is fully informed and self-isolates if they develop symptoms."
He added that the public should "work from home where possible" and that face-to-face interactions should be reduced by holding meetings online or over the phone.
"Public transport will continue to operate," he continued, "the shops will remain open and we have plans to ensure the supply chains will not be interrupted.
"Restaurants, cafes and other business can stay open, but should at look at ways they can implement public health advice on social distancing, and in general, people outside work should seek to reduce social interaction as much as possible.
"The cabinet will meet later today. In the period ahead the government will deploy all of resources it can muster, human and financial, to tackle this threat head one. Those resources are extensive but not unlimited.
"Above all, we all need to look out for each other," Varadkar said, before adding: "We will prevail."