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Seanad holds special session to pass emergency legislation on Covid-19

The legislation is expected to pass all stages before being signed into law by President Michael D Higgins.

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Pharmacists take precautions in the Life Pharmacy in Rathmines, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Pharmacists take precautions in the Life Pharmacy in Rathmines, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Pharmacists take precautions in the Life Pharmacy in Rathmines, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Emergency legislation to deal with Covid-19 will go before the Seanad on Friday.

Fewer senators than usual will be allowed into the Seanad chamber due to social distancing measures.

Emergency legislation to manage the “unprecedented circumstances” caused by Covid-19 was rushed through all stages in the Dail on Thursday night.

The legislation was passed without a vote and the bill now goes to the Seanad where it is expected to pass all stages before being signed into law by the President.

The draft law provides fast-track welfare payments to the newly unemployed and a three-month ban on evictions.

Total coronavirus cases in Ireland
(PA Graphics)

It also confers new security and community measures that would give new powers of detention until November.

Under the draft new laws, the authorities can order people to stay indoors, close down non-essential businesses, cancel events and have the ability to impose targeted restrictions on specific areas of the country.

The Republic has taken strong measures on social distancing to try to curb rising numbers of those contracting the infection.

It came as another person died and 191 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the Republic on Thursday, bringing the country’s total diagnosed to 557.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney has urged people to take social distancing seriously as it can save thousands of lives.

Speaking in the Seanad on Friday, he said: “Social distancing matters. It is not a theory, it is a protection and we need to confront our families and our peers and our communities to make sure everybody takes that seriously. If we do, we will save lives – thousands of them.”

Mr Coveney urged young and healthy people in particular to heed the advice.

“For those people who are not taking this seriously, we need to change the conversation to ensure that they do,” he said.

PA