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Coronavirus: Varadkar bans big groups and shuts all shops in Republic of Ireland

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TaoiseachLeo Varadkar in Dublin yesterday

TaoiseachLeo Varadkar in Dublin yesterday

TaoiseachLeo Varadkar in Dublin yesterday

Leo Varadkar has introduced a number of sweeping measures in the Republic to tackle coronavirus, including restricting all public gatherings to four people.

The Taoiseach said all non-essential retail should close, including all theatres, clubs and bingo halls, and that people should work from home unless absolutely essential.

Mr Varadkar said the public had to do more to flatten the curve of the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures were introduced on the day when the seventh Irish coronavirus-linked death was announced - a man with an underlying health condition.

There were 204 new cases confirmed yesterday, bringing the total to 1,329.

Mr Varadkar said that all sporting events, even those behind closed doors, were off.

He said: "People should stay at home if at all possible. This is the best way to slow the virus."

He said all cafes and restaurants should limit supply to takeaway only and confirmed the government was increasing support for laid-off workers.

Mr Varadkar said all gatherings outdoors were limited to a maximum of four people, but not in the case of families.

Gardai will "increase interventions" to ensure compliance with the measures, but such interventions will be used "sparingly", he said.

Mr Varadkar said private hospitals "will act effectively as public hospitals" for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that 250,000 volunteers in good health are being recruited to help vulnerable people and an exhibition centre in London will be converted into a new NHS hospital.

He said people were needed to assist with the national effort to tackle coronavirus by shopping, delivering medicines and supporting those who are shielding themselves against Covid-19.

He said more than 35,000 extra staff had already joined up to help fight against the virus, including retired doctors and nurses returning to the service and final-year students.

"I pay tribute to each and every one of those who is returning to the NHS in its hour of need," Mr Hancock said.

This came after it was revealed the number of coronavirus dead in the UK had reached 422 - a jump of 87 and the largest day-on-day increase since the outbreak began.

Mr Hancock confirmed that a temporary hospital, the NHS Nightingale hospital, would be opening at London's ExCeL centre. It will comprise two wards, each of 2,000 people, and has been set up with the help of the military.

Belfast Telegraph