Irish President Michael D. Higgins signed emergency legislation into law on Friday night which gives the Irish State powers to detain people, restrict travel and keep people in their homes during the current COVID-19 crisis.

The emergency legislation forms part of the Irish government's response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The legislation passed the Dáil (House of Representatives) on Thursday night and the Seanad (Senate) on Friday afternoon. 

The new laws aim to introduce measures to pay people illness benefits if they become infected with the coronavirus. The law also creates payments for people who are made redundant during the crisis.

Additionally, the legislation enables the Irish State to detain people who refuse to self-isolate and also permits the government to order people to stay in certain areas. 

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The Irish State can now also shut down mass gatherings, according to the new legislation. 

Under the legislation, Irish medical officers can order a person's detention in a specified hospital or another place if they deem them to be a potential source of COVID-19 and if they deem them unlikely or unwilling to self-isolate. 

The officer can order their detention and thus enforce self-isolation. They will be detained until it is deemed that they no longer require detention in order to self-isolate. 

The detainees must also undergo medical examinations within 14 days of their detention, according to the law.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that the powers of detention would remain in place until Nov. 9 this year and that the new powers would only be used in the public interest to prevent people from getting sick. 

Upon signing the legislation into law, President Higgins called on the Irish people to respond in a "generous way" to the Health Service Executive's (HSE) advice to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

"These new health and social measures may be difficult for many but they affect us all and we are at a point now when a person's actions have consequences not only for themselves but for all in society," he said.

"Irresponsible individual action puts all at risk. We must draw on our strengths now."

Higgins said that he hoped future generations would look back with pride at how Irish people rose to the significant challenge posed by COVID-19. 

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President Higgins signed the legislation on Friday night. Rolling News