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Ireland orders multiple local lockdowns to stem 'merciless and unrelentless' coronavirus

Ireland has announced new restrictions in three regions amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Prime minister Micheal Martin said this will apply to the counties of Kildare, Laois and Offaly, in response to a "deep and urgent threat.''

The restrictions came into force on Saturday and are set to last for two weeks.

"I understand the increasing impatience which many people are feeling", Martin said upon announcing the measures, "however, we all need to understand that this virus is still a deep and urgent threat. It is merciless and it is unrelenting."

Movement will be restricted with the exception of work and other essential journeys.

The prime minister has however encouraged everyone to work from home as much as possible.

"Those who can work from home should do so, and we are asking employers to facilitate their employees in every way possible for these two weeks to do that".

Pubs serving food and restaurants will close, apart from takeaway services, deliveries and "limited outdoor dining".

Entertainment venues, like theatres, museums, cinemas, galleries, bingo halls, as well as other indoor sport, dance and cultural venues, will be shut too.

Ireland has so far recorded over 26,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.

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