Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that "a number of localized clusters" in counties Kildare, Laois, and Offaly are "a serious concern"

Taoiseach Micheál Martin today announced that Cos Kildare, Laois, and Offaly are to come under new restrictions tonight at midnight in the wake of a surge of coronavirus cases in the region.

The news comes after it was revealed that 292 cases of the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Republic of Ireland the past two weeks occurred within those three counties.

"These represent almost half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time," the Irish government said on Thursday.

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In his brief address on Friday evening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: "We are still doing very well by international standards, but over the past week, there have been a number of localized clusters which are a serious concern," the Taoiseach said in his brief address.

He continued: "We have already postponed key parts of the reopening plan, and this evening, in response to the increased spread of the disease in counties Kildare, Laois, and Offaly, and acting on the very clear of advice of public health officials, the government has decided to introduce a number of limited restrictions within those three counties for a number of two weeks from midnight tonight.

"In these three counties, everyone should restrict their movements to within their own country, except for the purposes of work and other essential journeys.

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

"Restaurants and pubs serving food should close, except for takeaway services, deliveries, and limited outdoor dining.

"Discretionary indoor recreation and entertainment venues, such as cinemas, theaters, museums, galleries, bingo halls, and other indoor recreational sports, dance, and cultural outlets will be closed.

"Visitations to prisons, acute hospitals, and nursing homes will be suspended except on compassionate grounds.

"Retail can remain open, but with strict adherence to public health guidance, including the wearing of face masks.

"Childcare and schools that are open can remain open, and the preparations for schools reopening will continue. 

"Outdoor amenities including playgrounds can remain open, again with appropriate social distancing advice.

"Households in these counties are asked to restrict visitors to their homes to no more than six people form no more than three households.

"Outdoor gatherings should be limited to 15 for organized activities. Noncontact sport training can take place outdoors in groups no larger than 15. Contact sports should cease for the next fortnight except for training for professional and elite athletes.

"People will be able to travel through these counties en route to other destinations in the normal way.

"Testing remains a key weapon in our armory, and that is why government working with employers and employee representatives have also moved to ramp up testing in effected sectors within the region.

"Any business premises that requires to be closed on public health grounds will be closed and will not reopen until public health officials are satisfied that it no longer poses a threat."

More detailed information about the new measures coming into effect in Kildare, Laois, and Offaly tonight can be read here on the government's website.

You can watch the Taoiseach's entire address here:

WATCH: Taoiseach Micheál Martin makes a statement on Covid-19 outside Government Buildings. | Follow live updates: https://t.co/0c14UF1L2W https://t.co/9jGwiyIywF

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 7, 2020