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Ireland closes all schools, universities and restricts hospital, prison visits amid COVID-19 panic

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced Thursday that schools and colleges in Ireland would temporarily close their doors due to the ongoing coronavirus — or COVID-19 — outbreak, according to the BBC.

At least one person has died in Ireland at the time of this writing due to COVID-19.

What are the details?

Varadkar announced Thursday morning that the closures begin on Thursday and to last at least until March 29.

He also said that any indoor gatherings of more than 100 people — as well as outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people — should also be canceled. Varadkar added that people should begin to work remotely if they have the option.

"I know that some of this is coming as a real shock, and it is going to involve big changes in the way we live our lives, and I know I'm asking people to make enormous sacrifices, but we're doing it for each other," he said.

He continued, "Our economy will suffer, but it will bounce back. ... Lost time in school or college will be recovered, and in time, our lives will go back to normal."

"Ireland is a great nation," Varadkar continued. "We're great people. We've experienced hardship and struggle before [and] we've overcome many trials in the past."

Airports and ports will remain operational, Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said, as well as shops and public transport.

"The actions we are announcing today are absolutely necessary and justified," Coveney insisted. "We are asking people to continue to work. Those who go to their places of work should limit their contacts, particularly face-to-face meetings."

He added, "We do need to respond with calm, with unity, with discipline, and resolve. These are the right measures at the right time based on the best public health advice."

Irish Health Minister Simon Harris also revealed that all museums, galleries, and tourist attractions will close for the time being.

Tony Holohan, who is Ireland's chief medical officer, also announced restrictions on visitors at public facilities such as hospitals and prisons.

"We've recommended that there be restrictions now on visiting hospitals, long-term care settings, mental health facilities, prisons, and spacing measures applied in homeless shelters," he said. "We'll continue to meet — not necessarily to identify new measures, but to continue to provide advice and guidance."

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