Stay at home – new measures in detail

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Health, Simon Harris, have issued strict guidelines for people to stay at home from midnight on 27 March 2020.

The main rule is to STAY AT HOME. You can only leave your home to:

  • Travel to or from work if you are providing an essential service (full list will be available soon).
  • Shop for food. You can get the list of essential retail outlets from gov.ie.
  • Collect medical prescriptions and medical supplies and go to medical appointments
  • Carry out vital services like caring (including family carers)
  • Exercise briefly within 2 kilometres of your house. (You can bring children but must keep 2 metres away from others for social distancing)
  • Do farm work

You cannot arrange a gathering with anybody you do not live with.
Everyone who can work from home must work from home. This includes essential workers and workers in essential government, utilities or other functions.

Cocooning will be introduced for people over 70 and people who are extremely medically vulnerable to COVID-19. Cocooning is a measure to protect people over 70 years or extremely medically vulnerable people by minimising interaction between them and others.

This means that these people should not leave their homes. Even within their homes they should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household.

These measures are in place until until Sunday 12 April. Read more about the new measures on gov.ie.

You can also read our document on public health measures for COVID-19 in Ireland and get detailed information in the coronavirus section of citizensinformation.ie.

New measures to combat COVID-19 from midnight on 27 March 2020

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD has announced further measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

From midnight on 27 March 2020, the following restrictions will be in place in Ireland:

  • Everyone to stay at home in all circumstances, except if you work in essential services (a list of these will be provided) ) for shopping, to get medicines, to care for relatives and brief exercise
  • All public and private gatherings of any number of people banned
  • All non-essential shops closed. 
  • All community centres closed. 
  • Shielding or cocooning introduced for all over-70s
  • All visits to offshore islands banned. 
  • No travel outside of 2 km of your own home for any reason (except those set out above)

COVID-19 – Ireland’s response

New measures were announced on 24 March 2020 in response to coronavirus. Measures to delay the spread of the virus, taken on 12 March 2020, included closing schools, colleges, childcare facilities and state-run cultural institutions. Pubs were also advised to close. These measures will continue.

From 24 March, people should only leave their homes to go to the shops for essential supplies, for medical or dental appointments, to care for others or to take physical exercise.

  • No unnecessary travel should take place within Ireland or overseas
  • All non-essential indoor visits to other people’s homes should be avoided
  • Social gatherings of people outdoors should be no more than 4 people, unless they are all from the same household
  • People should work from home unless attendance at their workplace is absolutely essential.

Read more about the public health measures for COVID-19.T

In addition, the Government announced that the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will increase to €350 weekly and will continue for as long as the current emergency lasts.

A new COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme was also announced. This will replace the Revenue Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme.

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme will allow employers to continue to pay their employees during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. It aims to keep employees on the books with employers, so that they will be able to get back to work quickly after the pandemic and do not need to apply for a social welfare payment. The scheme will run for 12 weeks.

Initially (from Thursday 26 March 2020), the Scheme will refund employers up to a maximum of €410 for each qualifying employee. In April, the scheme will move to a subsidy payment based on 70% of the weekly average take home pay for each employee up to a maximum of €410. Revenue will provide details of this soon.

As part of the response to coronavirus, private hospitals will operate as public hospitals on a non-profit basis.

What are essential retail outlets?

On 24 March 2020, the Irish Government announced new restrictions to try and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. You can read the details of the new restrictions on gov.ie and in our document on public health measures for COVID-19.

The following is an indicative list of what are considered essential retail outlets:

  • Retail and wholesale sale of food, beverages and newspapers in non-specialised and specialised stores
  • Retail sale of household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences and businesses
  • Pharmacies/chemists and retailers providing pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical or dispensing services
  • Opticians/optometrists
  • Retail sale of medical and orthopaedic goods in specialised stores
  • Fuel stations and heating fuel providers
  • Retailers involved in the repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycle repair and related facilities (for example, tyre sales and repairs)
  • Retail sale of essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including animal feed and medicines, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding
  • Laundries and drycleaners
  • Banks, post offices and credit unions
  • Retail sale of safety supply stores (for example, work clothes, Personal Protective Equipment)
  • Hardware stores, builders’ merchants and stores that provide hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance, sanitation and farm equipment, supplies and tools essential for gardening/farming/agriculture
  • Retail sale of office products and services for individuals working from home and for businesses
  • Retailers providing electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home

Protect yourself from COVID-19 scams

Scams target people of all ages and backgrounds. Scams are about tricking you into parting with your money and are becoming more and more sophisticated and difficult to spot. Sadly, during the coronavirus pandemic, fraud and other scams are increasing.

Gardaí have issued a warning in relation to a number of COVID-19 related scams. Examples include:

  • Online shopping scams involving sought-after items like face masks and hand sanitiser
  • People calling to your house offering services in relation to Covid-19, including services for medically-related tests
  • Phising emails with an attachment claiming to contain vital information about the virus and prompting you to open the attachment
  • Hoax websites asking you to make a donation to a fake charity supporting a coronavirus cause

How can I protect myself?

There are things you can do to protect yourself from scams. You should:

  • Know who you are dealing with: Research the company to make sure it is a legitimate business or charity
  • Be alert for suspicious behaviour: Be aware of offers that seem too good to be true. Check the website is secure by looking for a closed security padlock symbol in the browser window bar. Don’t click or download anything you don’t trust.
  • Protect your personal information: Don’t give out any personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call. Don’t give out personal information in an email or when chatting online.
  • Protect your money: Never send money by bank transfer unless you are absolutely certain you are sending it to someone you know and trust. Sending money by bank transfer is like sending someone cash and generally once you send it, it’s gone. Always use a secure method of payment such as credit card, debit card or other payment services such as PayPal (that offer a payment protection scheme). You can ask your bank or card provider to reverse the transaction through a process called chargeback.

The CCPC has more advice about how to watch out for scams.

The CCPC publish regular consumer warnings about misleading or fraudulent websites.

Pregnant and lost your job?

If you are pregnant and your employer has no work available during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can apply for a social welfare payment.

However, the payment you apply for depends on the number of weeks from your last day of employment to the date you are due to give birth (your due date):

  • If your due date is within 16 weeks of your last day of employment, you must apply for Maternity Benefit. This is because you must be in insurable employment immediately before your maternity leave starts.
  • If your due date is more than 16 weeks from your last day of employment, you should apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This can be paid for up to 6 weeks. You should apply for a jobseeker’s payment during that period.

Read more about social welfare payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read more about pregnancy and coronavirus and you can read information for pregnant women on COVID-19 from the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin. This information is available in 5 languages.

More on two-weekly social welfare payments…

On 19 March 2020, DEASP announced that social welfare payments will paid on a double (two-week) basis. This means that instead of being paid weekly, you will be paid your social welfare payment every 2 weeks. This reduces the need for people to leave home during the COVID-19 pandemic to collect social welfare payments in post offices and support social distancing. The new measure applies both to people who collect their payments at post offices and people who are paid into a bank account.

The double payment will be made on some social welfare schemes next week (starting 23 March). People on the remaining schemes will be paid their 2 weeks entitlement in a single payment the following week.

You can find out when your double payment will be paid on gov.ie.

Mortgages, loans and rent

On 18 March 2020 the 5 retail banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC, Permanent tsb and Ulster Bank), along with their representative body Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) announced a series of measures to support people and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include:

  • A payment break of up to 3 months for businesses and personal customers. If you want to request a payment break, you should contact your bank directly
  • A simplified application process to make it easy for businesses and personal customers to get support from their bank
  • A solution to ensure that COVID-19 application for a payment break will not affect credit ratings
  • Deferral of court proceedings for 3 months

Tenants and landlords

If you are a tenant and you will have problems with your rent payments as a result of the COVD-19 crisis, you should engage as soon as possible with your landlord.

Services are available for tenants and landlords in difficulty through the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and the national housing charity, Threshold, which operates the Tenancy Protection Service.

The RTB provides a Dispute Resolution Process with a number of options for landlords and tenants to resolve disputes. You can contact the RTB on 0818 303037 or (01) 702 8100 (8.30am-6.30pm).

Threshold’s national Tenancy Protection Service provides advice and support to tenants where there is a tenancy problem or where a tenancy is at risk. Threshold advisors can mediate with landlords and also help with applications for rent supplement. Call 1800 454 454, 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday for more information.