Irish prime minister announces nationwide lockdown

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File photo of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

CNN -- The Republic of Ireland will enter a nationwide period of lockdown as part of new "radical" measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced Friday.

“With effect from midnight tonight, for a two week period until Easter Sunday, April 12, everybody must stay at home under all circumstances," Varadkar said.

The order limits travel for citizens and public and private gatherings.

Speaking during news conference on Friday evening, Varadkar confirmed that essential workers — including health and social care professionals — would be permitted to travel to and from work.

Members of the public, Varadkar continued, will also be allowed to leave their homes to purchase groceries and medicine; attend medical appointments; engage in brief, individual exercise; and for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children and the elderly.

According to the Irish prime minister, all visits to hospitals and prisons will no longer be permissible, and public transport services will be limited to “essential workers" and those providing essential services.

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