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How Ireland is responding to COVID-19

In Ireland it has been wonderful to see the collective response across public, private and community & voluntary sectors to support older and vulnerable groups across the country during this difficult time. A snapshot of some early responses thus far have been;

(18/03/2020)

Leading stores such as SuperValu, Tesco, Lidl and others have scheduled older customer only hours. These are between 9am and 11am to ensure the shelves are stocked as older people are anxious about those who are stock piling.  They have also introduced floor markings to adhere to the 2metre social distancing recommendations.  They have ensured that there are limits on purchases in the response to stock piling. At local level smaller shops are ramping up home deliveries particularly essential services such as prescriptions from pharmacies. Local restaurants (a lot of which have closed down temporarily) are continuing to cook meals for older people and delivering them in the community

An Post have introduced extended opening hours and have worked with Department of Social Protection to introduce emergency “Temporary Agents” who can collect pensions on behalf of those who are self-quarantining or self-isolating

An Garda Siochana have deployed 200 contingency vehicles to enable community police officers to deliver provisions to older people and check up on those who are most isolated and don’t have a support structure in place. They have also accelerated the vetting process to ensure volunteers can be processed to enable them to volunteer at local level especially with essentials like meals on wheels and others

A national call was made for retired health care staff (doctors, nurses) to return to work. The “Be on call for Ireland” initiative was launched on Monday night by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Prime Minister) and they received 24,000 applications yesterday

Banks have been asked to suspend charges on contactless payments and raise the threshold for transactions from €30 to €50.  They’re also providing a package to freeze repayments on mortgages and loans for 3 months to support those who have lost their jobs. Simultaneously they are providing a support package for small businesses that have been forced to close.  This will be a support to many older people who are still working or still running their own small businesses

At local level sporting clubs, community groups and others are telephoning local older people regularly, collecting their shopping and dropping them at the doors. This daily check in has been an invaluable support to thousands across Ireland

Health care workers raised the issue of their vehicles being clamped particularly near their places of work (hospitals, primary care centres etc..). Now clamping has been suspended and the clamping staff have been redeployed to deliver shopping and supplies to older people

A huge volume of physical activity programmes are moving from gym based classes to home based classes and delivering them to older people thorugh Facebook and online platforms. This is especially important to older people who wish to remain physically active

RTE are scheduling a daily viewing of mass for older people who are unable to go to church on a daily basis

Good Morning Call Services across the country at both local and national level are scaling up their service delivery

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