Earlier this week, during a special Ministerial Briefing broadcast, Leo Varadkar told the nation that the coronavirus emergency is likely to go on well beyond the 29th of March, and could go on for months into the summer.
Speaking about the current situation, he asked the public to follow the HSE's guidelines, and ensure that the country subscribes to social distancing: "In short we are asking people to come together as a nation by staying apart".
WATCH: Full speech by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as the country's schools, colleges and childcare facilities are to close in response to the Covid-19 pandemic | Read more: https://t.co/0dZzTUDn4s pic.twitter.com/URGFZUb2jn— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 12, 2020
With this in mind, we have pulled together some of the most positive, creative, helpful, interesting and entertaining activities to keep you going over the coming weeks.
1. Watch a movie with the country
Comedian Alison Spittle has created a nightly #CovideoParty whereby she and other Twitter users watch an agreed-upon movie at 9 o'clock. Everyone tweets along, making jokes and sharing their favourite parts, with some fans even dressing up as their favourite characters.
If you don't have Twitter, you can get involved with a Netflix Party - a Chrome extension that allows friends to watch a movie at the same time and use a group chat.
Alternatively, if you want to keep it simple, you could call your mammy on the landline and tell her to tune into RTÉOne or RTÉ2 for a Friday night movie. No extensions or social media accounts required. Check out the TV Guide here.
Tonight's #covideoParty winner is... Beetlejuice— Alison Spittle (@AlisonSpittle) March 19, 2020
Get pictures of your snacks, dogs, mammies and get creative.
Today's dress up theme is beetlejuice or spooky.
RT please pic.twitter.com/eFDKHK5RN8
2. Listen to a Podcast
It seems like everyone and their granny has a podcast these days, which is great news for those of us in need of some entertainment. Whether you're fascinated by true crime or looking for a bit of light relief, there's a podcast out there for you.
Here are 5 Irish favourites to get you started:
Owning It: The Anxiety Podcast
Author Caroline Foran shares her story of anxiety, along with some expert input, in an attempt to help you show your anxiety who's boss. She recently posted an episode on dealing with the pandemic.
The Nobody Zone
In 1983 Kieran Patrick Kelly confessed to multiple murders. In this podcast series, we enter a dark world where killer and victims mask their identities and where evidence is as hard to find, as it is to trust.
The Two Johnnies
Hotter than fresh tay, Irish duo The 2 Johnnies bring music, comedy, competitions, and local gossip from Tipperary to listeners every week with the help of producer Maura. The two boys like to cover the countries biggest issues and this week's episode saw them discuss the history of Paddy's Day and the cost of a chicken fillet roll.
Beo ar Éigean
An chéad phodchraoladh Gaeilge ó RTÉ ina bpléitear cúrsaí an tsaoil, ó ghrá go bás, lán le craic, spraoi agus gáire le Siún Ní Dhuinn, Áine Ní Bhreisleáin agus Sinéad Ní Uallacháin.
The first podcast in Irish from RTÉ, in which Siún Ní Dhuinn, Áine Ní Bhreisleáin, and Sinéad Ní Uallacháin discuss life's ups and downs, from love to loss, with lots of laughs along the way.
Hosted by Kevin C. Olohan, Fireside is an Irish Storytelling Podcast that takes a story from Folklore or Mythology. Each week, Kevin presents a story before discussing its origins as well as the craft, culture, and history of Storytelling.
We know, we know. Meditation isn't an easy thing to get into at the best of times, nevermind when you're looking for a good distraction. However, this could be an opportune moment for all of us to slow down and reflect inwards.
There are plenty of meditation apps out there but if you're looking for something more personal, the Elbow Room in Smithfield have been hosting guided meditations live on Instagram.
4. Mind your body
Although it's tempting to get into a pair of fluffy pajamas and wait this thing out from the couch, it's important that we keep our bodies - as well as our minds - fighting fit.
Additionally, an overwhelming amount of personal trainers have offered up their services for free via social media recently. Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach has been hosting live workouts on Instagram that last 25 minutes and require zero equipment.
5. Have a giggle
Irish comedians have become a great source of creative content over the past few weeks. They are working hard on side-tickling podcasts, YouTube videos, TikToks, Tweets, and Instagram stories to keep us all entertained during the tough times - and it's all for free.
Subscribe to their channels, donate to their Patreon accounts, and be sure to buy tickets to their shows when they return to the stage!
Little did I know when I picked hot pink shellac 'just for fun' two weeks ago I’d be wearing this nail colour for life #covidireland— Julie Jay Z (@juliejaycomedy) March 18, 2020
The HSE are currently working to make sure the most vulnerable members of our communities are looked after during this pandemic. If you are interested in volunteering, click here for more info.
According to the website, they are dealing with a large volume of registrations from people interested in helping (Ireland really pulls together in times of crisis) so not all offers will be facilitated - at least not straight away.
In the last 24 hours, 24,000 people have contacted the @HSELive responding to our call for help! Ireland, I love you! What an amazing national effort. Thank you so much. Let's keep at it. Go to https://t.co/FcV6QXIHGE and see if you can help #coronavirus #Covid19— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 18, 2020
7. Read a book
Now is the perfect time to delve into the pile of books that have been gathering dust on your nightstand. Avid-reader Ryan Tubridy recently took to Instagram to share some of his favourite books from Irish authors including:
- When all is said by Anne Griffin
- Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent
- TH1RT3EN by Steve Cavanagh
- The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
- Beneath the Surface by Jo Spain
If you don't have any new reads at home, why not dive into some of your old favourites or download something from the BorrowBox app.
8. Marie Kondo your home
We were all due a spring clean anyway but, given the current circumstances, why not take it a step further and organise every drawer, shelf and cupboard your home has to offer. You can watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix for inspiration or simply follow the woman herself on Instagram to get some top tips on folding your socks the right way. Yes, there is a right way.
9. Create a workspace
If you're working from home, why not create a stylish workspace for yourself? Upcycle your furniture with some decoupage or a spot of paint, dig out that old desk lamp from the attic, bring some flowers in from the garden - get creative with what you've got.
If you're tight on space, there are furniture companies such as WFH that can create bespoke pieces to slot into whatever room you have available.
If you're lucky enough to have a garden at home, why not take the opportunity to spend some time outdoors. Get some chalk and play hopscotch, have a picnic, pull up weeds and prune hedges or take some photos of your flowers - there's always plenty to be doing in nature.
11. Support others (if you can)
Smaller businesses, especially those that depend on face to face contact are inevitably going to struggle during social distancing. If you have the means to do so, now would be a great time to give back.
If you want to help out your favourite local café, hairdresser or beauty salon why not can buy a voucher online? That way they can have the money they need now, and you have something to look forward to once this is over. Win-win.
If you've been enjoying the near-constant stream of free content from Ireland's podcasters, influencers, and entertainers, it might be time to give back via their Patreon accounts.
12. Unearth old photos
Whether you're living alone or staying with family, going through old photographs is a great way to spend a day. Pick out your favourites and create a collage or album so they can be passed around once you start having visitors over again. If all your photos are digital, have a look for your favourites and print them out.
13. Get the bits done
You know that nagging to-do list that you just never get around to? Well, now might be the perfect time to get to it.
Maybe you have paperwork that needs sorting, e-mails that need answering,jewellery that needs cleaning, a freezer that's in desperate need of defrosting or windows that haven't been washed since you moved in? Check out Laura de Barra's Instagram for 'She-IY' inspo.
14. Create, don't contaminate
Kodaline, The Script, Picture This, and The Coronas are just some of the famous faces getting behind RTÉ's #CreateDontContaminate campaign to keep young people's spirits up during social distancing.
Every day over two weeks, RTÉ's team of presenters and influencers will share a new challenge to create content at home while maintaining social distance. These will involve making content from anywhere in the house surrounding music, comedy, dance, art, story-telling, fashion or beauty.
15. Learn a new skill
When this pandemic ends, you can tell your friends that you watched all 236 episodes of Friends (for the tenth time) or you can show off a new party trick. Learn a dance on TikTok, learn a language on DuoLingo, follow some make-up tutorials on YouTube.
Alternatively, if you're at home with your parents or someone who knows how to run a household, ask them to help you work on some practical life skills - sewing, cooking, doing the laundry without turning everything pink, etc.
16. Take an online class
If you've discovered a newfound hobby during your downtime, why not take it a step further and sign up for an online class? You could have a new life skill by the time this is over.
Alternatively, plenty of creatives have offered to 'skill swap' with others online. For example, if you're an aspiring photographer who knows how to edit videos, you could trade in your knowledge for some unreal tips from Ruth Medjber.
I need to learn how to edit video better. Really snappy, gorgeous tour stuff. Would any confident editors be into a skill swap? Maybe I could teach you studio/lighting or whatever you need.— Ruth Medjber 📸 (@ruthlessimagery) March 15, 2020
Or, if you just want to have some fun, get to painting with Ireland's answer to Bob Ross - Kevin McGahern.
Hey folks. On Friday at 5pm I'll be doing a live painting of an Irish celebrity based on your suggestions. Why not join me and paint along? Leave your suggestions below. #paintalongwithkevin #StayAtHome #stayhomechallenge pic.twitter.com/Y4gk9vqGp3— Kevin McGahern (@kevinmcgahern) March 18, 2020
17. Find your match
If you're a single pringle who is ready to mingle, the next few weeks are going to be interesting.
Will Skype dates become a thing? And if so, do we still dress up or can we just put a snazzy top on over our tracksuit bottoms?
Pre-isolation: "Love Is Blind" is so dumb. Imagine thinking you could fall in love someone with you've never met.— Davey Reilly (@DaveyReilly) March 17, 2020
Post-isolation: HEY PERSON I'VE BEEN TALKING TO ON TINDER FOR THREE DAYS WILL YOU MARRY ME??
While some of you may not like the idea of online dating (it certainly has its flaws) spending a couple of hours on Hinge is still probably better than texting your ex...
DO NOT TEXT UR EX BECAUSE OF ISOLATION BOREDOM.— SOCIALLY DISTANCING (@RadRoopa) March 15, 2020
DO NOT TEXT UR EX BECAUSE OF ISOLATION BOREDOM.
DO NOT TEXT UR EX BECAUSE OF ISOLATION BOREDOM.
DO NOT TEXT UR EX BECAUSE OF ISOLATION BOREDOM.
DO NOT TEXT UR EX BECAUSE OF ISOLATION BOREDOM.
DO NOT TEXT UR EX BECAUSE OF ISOLA
18. Write a story or start a journal
This is history, people! Why not document the way the world is changing and reacting over the coming weeks? Your journal could turn into some great reading material for your grandchildren when they're asked to write about this in class.
Or, if you want to escape from reality, write a story... you never know what might come out of it.
19. Create the ultimate playlist
Let's be honest, our teenage selves would be ashamed of our adult selves. Music used to be an all-out obsession for most of us - every lyric memorised, posters on the walls, never leaving the house without a Walkman in hand.
These days, many of us rely on the charts for new music but now is the perfect time to re-discover your old favourites, fall down a Spotify rabbit hole to new bands, or discover the perfect alternative to Happy Birthday while washing your hands correctly.
Never Ever Don't Wash Your Hands- I’ve found it, the perfect song. All Saints were ahead of their time.— Aisling Bea (@WeeMissBea) March 16, 2020
Also I’m not playing a piano, the music is coming straight out of my lady land, that’s why it’s not in shot. pic.twitter.com/EpHp3z2koC
20. Hang out with friends... online
Miss seeing your friends on a Friday night after work? Well, you don't have to! Organise a group video chat, throw on a nice top, pour yourself a drink* and have a great night.
Top tip: If you want to spruce up your look with minimal effort, use Zoom. It's an app that has a "Touch Up My Appearance" option in the video settings. You're welcome.
21. Host a games night - real or virtual
If you're living at home with your housemates or family members, why not whip out an old board game or two? Bring out those Christmas holiday vibes with a game of Trivial Pursuit, Charades or Scrabble.
Play Monopoly at your own peril.
If you're living alone, join in on an online pub quiz or bingo game or create your own with friends!
Over 120 teams took part (about 117 more than I anticipated) but the winning team is...— Davey Reilly (@DaveyReilly) March 19, 2020
My Dinner With Andre Kanchelskis!
Congratulations!🥇#MasterMindYourselves will be back again next Wednesday at the same time! pic.twitter.com/w7UwrmeOFq
22. Plan a road trip
When all this is over, we'll all be gasping to get out and about to experience different surroundings. Rather than pulling together the usual last-minute holiday, use this time to organise the trip of your dreams in Ireland or further afield.
23. Teach your pet a new trick
Your pets are sure to be confused as to why you're suddenly spending so much time at home with them. Take advantage of the situation and teach your furry-friend a new trick!
24. Trace your family tree
Get out the arts and crafts supplies, draw yourself a tree and get to work! Whether you have the option of sticking on the kettle and giving your grandad a call or if you have to depend on online resources, tracing your ancestory is a great use of your time.
25. Read some good news
It's important to keep up to date with the latest news on this pandemic and what steps we need to be taking to slow it down, but it is also important to take regular breaks from it all and focus on the many positive things happening in the world around us.
*If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can visit Ask About Alcohol.
If you have recently travelled from an affected area or want information about coronavirus, go to the HSE's coronavirus page here.