Dublin: Ireland imposed a six-week lockdown to suppress the spread of COVID-19 in what its leader called 'Europe’s strictest regime'.
Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced the move on Monday night in a television address to the nation following days of behind-the-scenes discussions with his public health experts.
The Irish government two weeks ago rejected its experts' call for the immediate nationwide imposition of Level 5 restrictions — the most severe of the government's levels.
"Everyone in the country is being asked to stay at home," the prime minister said.
Only essential workers will be 'permitted to travel to work', he said, and citizens will be allowed out to exercise only within five kilometres (three miles) of their residence.
The government warned in a statement that 'there will be a penalty' for violating the five-kilometre restriction and that public transport will operate at 25 percent capacity to serve essential workers only.