Irish Daily Mail
TOGETHER WE CAN SAVE MANY LIVES
Taoiseach warns loved ones at serious risk ++ Schools and colleges shut down ++ 27 new cases brings total to 70 ++ Run on freezers as panic buying grips
LEO Varadkar has appealed to the country to unite in the face of the unfolding coronavirus crises.
Schools, colleges and childcare facilities have been closed, and staff asked to work from home.
The move came ahead of grim news last night that there were 27 new cases confirmed, bringing the total here to 70.
Despite pleas for calm, electrical stores ran out of freezers as tens of
thousands rushed to get food supplies yesterday, forcing some of the country’s largest supermarkets to shut down.
The gardaí and Army are now drawing up plans to deal with looting as supermarkets across the country struggled to cope with the huge queues of people buying up bread, toilet paper and frozen goods.
The GAA also suspended ‘all activity at club, inter-county and educational levels until March 29’. A number of gyms and fitness studios also announced they would shut for two weeks.
The Taoiseach announced the school closures in a live address from Washington yesterday, while in Dublin, senior ministers including Simon Coveney and the Chief Medical Officers warned of the dangers ahead.
‘We have not witnessed a pandemic of this nature in living memory. This is unchartered territory,’ said Mr Coveney.
Tesco in Clare Hall, Dublin shut down for hours because of the large crowds of people lined up trying to get in.
In Waterford, the Lidl sold out of bread and frozen goods by early afternoon.
The Vintners Association of Ireland, which represents pubs and restaurants, said there is now a ‘national emergency’ and called for Government clarity about how pubs should implement ‘social distancing’ and restrictions on customers.
In a strongly worded message, Business Minister Heather Humphreys said stockpiling products will cause further problems and she urged the public to remain calm.
In an attempt to allay the public’s fears, she said retailers and supermarkets have assured her there is a sufficient supply chain. ‘I met retailers and I met with distributors, and they have assured me there is a sufficient supply chain,’ she said.
It is understood that new ‘special Garda patrols’ to ensure public order does not spiral out of control are being prepared by the Government.
Also, desk-based gardaí are due to be moved to more frontline policing, as it is feared that looting and other crimes could spread. It is also understood that all Garda training courses have been cancelled.
Additionally, gardaí and the Army are on standby as the Prison Service is compelled to restrict visitors to the nation’s jails. Authorities are ‘braced and prepared’ for resistance from inmates over a curtailment of their rights, as has happened in Italy where there has been extensive prison rioting.
Laws are already in existence that can prosecute people who do not act in the best interests of public health. They can face fines and imprisonment of up to six months.
Over three weeks ago, public health staff were given the power to detain a person suspected of suffering from coronavirus so they can be put into isolation. The defence forces are now being prepared for possible patrols.
A notice sent by Commandant Pat Dunlea, the officer commanding B company of the 6th Infantry Battalion based in Athlone in Co. Westmeath, told personnel to be ready for an immediate notice to move.
However, the first case of coronavirus looting appears to have been at a Garda station.
Management at the Bridewell Station sent an official notice to gardaí to tell of their deep disappointment that hundreds of anti-coronavirus packs have been taken from a storage area. A mid-level garda told gardaí that staff have until Friday to return the packs before CCTV is reviewed and an investigation is launched.
Soldiers are put on notice