BREAKING: Ireland to implement strictest lockdown in EU — to last SIX WEEKS

BREAKING: Ireland to implement strictest lockdown in EU

Ireland is the first European Union country set to implement its highest level restrictions in face of the coronavirus pandemic. Starting from midnight on Wednesday, the country is to re-enter a nationwide lockdown, which will be set in place for six weeks.

The “Level 5” measures require residents to remain home, with all social gatherings prohibited except in certain circumstances.

"At Level 5, the public health risk means that you will be asked to stay at home, with certain exceptions. There will be no gatherings other than small numbers at funerals and weddings," according to the government website, which was updated on Tuesday.

Under the restrictions, no more than 25 people will be allowed to attend funerals and weddings.

The latest decision comes as a second outbreak of the virus continues across Europe. Cases have been on a sharp incline throughout Europe in recent weeks, including a 43% rise in weekly new cases in the week commencing October 5, according to data compiled by the World Health Organisation.

Residents in the Republic of Ireland will be under strict travel restrictions, including being  required to stay at home, and any form of exercise is only permitted within five kilometers (three miles) from their home. Exceptions to the five kilometer rule only include those traveling for essential work, food shopping and medical appointments.

"Public transport will operate at 25 percent capacity for the purposes of allowing those providing essential services to get to work," the new restrictions state.

"You should work from home unless you are providing an essential service for which your physical presence is required," the government stated, adding, "there will be a penalty for movement outside five kilometers of home."

All non-essential business, including gyms, pools, salons, retail venues will be closed. While bars, restaurants and cafes will be limited to take-out and delivery services.

Essential retail services such as food shopping will remain open. 

"Early learning and childcare services will continue to remain open and are deemed essential," while higher and adult education will be "primarily online with exemptions for essential onsite activities," the government stated.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin stated in a televised address on Monday that despite implementing “Europe’s strictest regime,” the country has been unable to significantly reduce its level of infections.

"I understand, and I feel very personally and profoundly, the sense of disappointment, the feelings of loneliness, perhaps even the despair that this announcement will bring for many," Martin said.