- Leo Varadkar said people will only be able to leave homes for limited reasons
- Ireland's death toll hit 22 and there are 2,121 confirmed cases in the country
- Varadkar warned intensive care units will be at capacity 'in a number of days'
Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tonight announced the country is in lockdown in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
The announcement that people are to be 'cocooned' until April 12 comes as three further deaths due to the bug - one of which was a healthcare worker - were confirmed.
Ireland's death toll now stands at 22 and there are 2,121 confirmed cases in the country.
Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tonight announced the country is in lockdownin a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus
In a televised address tonight, Mr Varadkar imposed a range of further restrictions for the next two weeks.
He ordered people to remain in their homes in all but a limited set of specific circumstances.
Those include travelling to or from work deemed to be essential, food shopping, medical appointments, brief exercise and vital family reasons.
Mr Varadkar said all people over the age of 70, and other people considered vulnerable to the disease, would also be 'cocooned' for the period.
'These are radical actions aimed at saving as many people's lives as possible in the days and weeks ahead,' he said.
People who do leave their homes for exercise will be required to stay within a 2km (1.2 mile) radius.
In a televised address tonight, Mr Varadkar imposed a range of further restrictions for the next two weeks
The Taoiseach said a list of essential work would be published.
He said social visits to relatives beyond the family unit at home would not be allowed.
Mr Varadkar said: 'There is not much more we could do in terms of restrictive measures.'
Mr Varadkar highlighted that gardai had powers to police the restrictions but he expressed hope they would be achieved with the 'consent and co-operation' of the public.
Health Minister Simon Harris acknowledged the steps would mean 'intensive and difficult changes' for people's way of life.
He said introducing the measures now may mean they would ultimately last for a shorter period than if they were put in place later in the outbreak.
The coronavirus testing centre on Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin where Naval service personnel are assisting medical staff
Ireland today saw three further deaths due to the bug - one of which was a healthcare worker
A prolonged travel shutdown would make about 760 million euros (approximately £680 million) of Irish budget airline Ryanair's revenue eligible for refund in the second quarter
'We need to stay the course and, put simply, we need to stay at home,' he said.
Earlier on Friday, Mr Varadkar warned that intensive care units will be at capacity 'in a number of days'.
He said that while there are currently a number of empty beds, the situation would change over the coming days, adding that it would become 'very difficult'.
'The way things are heading indicate that ICU will be at capacity in a number of days.
'That's already the case around Europe, it may happen here. We have to plan for that.
'We need to make sure we have capacity, ventilators, all of those things.'
On Friday night, President Michael D Higgins signed into a law a sweeping package of emergency legislation to deal with the crisis.
The measures include income support, eviction bans and rent freezes.
Mr Varadkar said the total death toll from coronavirus was 'impossible to predict'.
He added: 'We are only still learning about it. But if you take the average flu season in Ireland, there would usually be around 500 deaths, if you take a bad flu season in Ireland there would roughly be 1,000 deaths.
'It would be a surprise, and a very pleasant surprise, if the number of deaths at the end of this was less than 1,000.'
President Higgins signed the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020 after its passage through both houses of the Oireachtas parliament in Dublin.
It includes measures to provide income support for workers, prevent evictions and implement a rent freeze throughout the health crisis.
The President said the laws reflected a time of crisis.
'Extraordinary and difficult measures have been necessary as we try to stem the tide of increasing infection,' he said.
'The effects of those measures will become visible in the coming weeks.
'The legislation is emergency legislation for a time of crisis. It is appropriate that it has time limits and leaves our constitutional rights in place.
'These are difficult times, but our difficulties will come to an end. Let us make sure that, through the decisions and actions we take at present, we ensure the health and safety of each other, all of us together.'