The Tánaiste has said he does not expect any further “dramatic measures” in the fight against COVID-19 in the coming days.
Simon Coveney is warning the public to get their information on the outbreak from official sources amid a rise in unfounded rumours on social media.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, said people should be “very careful” where they are getting their information from.
“Yesterday, I was getting dozens of calls from people who thought, for example, that the country was going to move into lockdown at 11am this morning because of a totally irresponsible message that was put up initially on WhatsApp and then spread across social media,” he said.
“There are all sorts of rumours spreading all the time
“These are people who are essentially playing on people’s fears, trying to cause disruption and upset.
“What I would say to people here is trust government agencies, trust the HSE and we will get messages out across social media.
“But please ignore rumours. Nobody is going to hide anything from the public here, I can promise you that. We will make decisions based on public health advice.”
Over the weekend, the Government asked all pubs in Ireland to close for at least two weeks. That followed the announcement earlier in the week that all schools, colleges and cultural institutions would close.
The Government is also calling on people not organise their own social gatherings in the home.
Minister Coveney said the current restrictions are sufficient for now.
“We’ll make decision as we get the advice from public health experts and we will try to give people as much time to adapt as we can,” he said.
“But for now, I don’t expect any more dramatic measures to be announced in the immediate future, that’s for sure.
“We still have to assess obviously, in relation to restaurants, in terms of if they can manage social distancing, we will get some advice on that later on today.”
He said the measures will only be successful if the public pulls together and buys into it.
"We are going to reach a point in time when we are talking about fatalities on a daily basis in Ireland too" - @SimonCoveney on @BreakfastNT this morning. #coronavirusireland pic.twitter.com/Y0nIbzMBnV
— Newstalk (@NewstalkFM) March 16, 2020
“You have to work with us here and when people are ignoring the advice, I think, people need to say it to them publicly,” he said.
“Not in an aggressive way but we need to remind people what this is all about.
“Yesterday, 368 people died in Italy and we are going to get to reach a point in time when we are talking about fatalities on a daily basis in Ireland too.
“So, this is about saving lives. It is about saving the lives of people that we love. Old people, vulnerable people, people with disability, people with weak immune systems. These are the people that we all have to protect.”
He said the Cabinet sub-committee on the virus will meet again today to discuss the latest advice from the Public Health Emergency Team.
Tánaiste @simoncoveney announces plan to assist 🇮🇪 tourists in 🇪🇸 to return to 🇮🇪
➡️bookings/changes👉 https://t.co/a8UMUM5reV https://t.co/JU0djVl25D
➡️@dfatirl advice📞353 1 6131733
— Ireland Embassy Madrid (@IrlEmbMadrid) March 15, 2020
Meanwhile, he said efforts to bring between 20,000 and 25,000 Irish holiday-makers home from Spain are well underway, after the Spanish government agreed to keep airports open to get them home.
“Many of them would have planned to come home in either ten days’ time or two weeks’ time,” he said.
“What we are saying to them bluntly today is you need to change your travel plans; you need to come home and we certainly know there are going to be lots of flights coming home between now and midnight on Thursday.
“After that, it is very difficult for me to be any way certain about facilitating flights back to Ireland from Spain.”
He said both Ryanair and Aer Lingus are waiving booking and seat fees for anyone who wants to change flights, and they are allocating bigger planes to impacted routes.
He said Spanish people in Ireland who want to return home should also take advantage of the extra flights while they are there.