What does the Taoiseach's statement mean for me?
The Taoiseach has asked all young people to help and support their families during this time
Last night, on the 17th of March 2020, our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressed the nation in an emergency statement on the current COVID-19/ Coronavirus pandemic. He spoke about the measures being put in place to ensure the health and safety of all the citizens in Ireland for both now and in the months ahead. Below we have broken down his speech into the important parts that are relevant to 16-25 year olds.
What does the Taoiseach’s statement mean for me?
The Taoiseach made many points in his speech but here are the main ones that may apply to you as a young person:
The number of cases of COVID-19 will continue to rise
The Government believes that number of cases will rise to fifteen thousand cases or more by the end of the month (March) and rise further in the weeks thereafter. The vast majority of us who contract Covid-19 will experience a mild illness, but some will be hospitalised and sadly some people will die.
We all need to reduce human contact
We all need to take steps to reduce close human contact. That is how the virus is spread. Not just at public gatherings or public places but also in our own homes, places of leisure and work. All large public gatherings are cancelled and all pubs and bars are shut.
Do not organise parties and cancel events
The Government have also asked people to reduce or cancel social gatherings like parties, weddings and other celebrations. They recognise that doing these things won’t be easy, but it is necessary.
We are still learning about the virus
The Government and Health Services are watching what’s happening around the world and will learn from the experience of other countries affected by Covid-19/ Coronavirus before us .
We know the best strategies focus on testing, contact tracing and social distancing. So, that is our strategy.
Essential services will remain open
All our essential services, supply chains and utilities will keep operating. And the Government will deploy our full resources to ensure that essential shops, workplaces and public transport can continue to operate. People will still need to buy goods and use personal services in the weeks and months ahead.
The shut down will continue past the 29th of March
This Emergency is likely to go on well beyond March 29th. It could go on for months into the summer so we need to be sensible in the approach we take.
Make the most of shopping online
As you plan your life it will mean avoiding unnecessary journeys. Shopping online from local businesses and getting things delivered rather than physically going to the premises should be your priority.
Remember to wash your hands and take care of your health
The Government are asking people to come together as a nation by staying apart from each other. The most basic messages of washing your hands properly and practicing good hygiene around sneezing and coughing are still the most important.
If you have a new cough that isn’t going away or a high temperature, stay at home and phone your doctor. A test will be arranged for you.
"Cocooning" is coming into place
At a certain point the Government will advise the elderly and people who have a long-term illness to stay at home for several weeks. They are putting in place the systems to ensure that if you elderly, you will have food, supplies and are checked on. This is called ‘cocooning’ and it will save many lives, particularly the most vulnerable and the most precious in our society.
Make the most out of technology
Technology can help. Check in with your loved ones on Skype or Facetime and let them know that you’ll see them again soon.
Check in on people who live alone
Phone your neighbours and see if they need help. It is important to make sure those who are living alone are not left alone.
Most importantly, be kind
The Taoiseach spoke directly to all the young people watching the announcement saying:
" I know you are bored and probably a bit fed up. You want to see your friends and you might even be wishing you were back at school. You’re going to have to wait a while longer for that. I hope you remember that this time is tough on your parents as well.
So I’m asking you to ask your parents at least once a day what you can do to help them. Keep up your schoolwork and call your grandparents and try not to fight with your brothers and sisters."
If you have lost your job
You will receive income support as quickly and efficiently as possible and when we are through the worst the Government will work as hard as possible to get people back to work and get business open again.
The Taoiseach stated that:
"Everyone in our society must show solidarity in this time of national sacrifice. For those who have lost their jobs and had their incomes reduced temporarily there must be help and understanding from those who can give it, particularly the bank, government bodies and utilities."
The Government has already signed off a 3 billion euro package for health, social welfare and business and will take further action as needed.
Only trust reliable media sources
Rely only on information from trusted sources; from Government, from the HSE, from the World Health Organisation and from the national media. Do not forward or share messages that are from other, unreliable sources.
And finally, prioritise your mental health
Please take regular breaks from watching news and media, and from consuming social media. Constantly scrolling on your phone or obsessively following the latest developments is not good for anyone.