Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has written to a number of senior officers who are due to retire in the next few weeks asking them to stay on in the national interest.

Among those asked to remain working in the force is the Assistant Commissioner in charge of policing Dublin, Pat Leahy. He was due to retire at the end of this month. It is understood he has agreed to remain in his post.

Over 300 students from the Garda College Templemore are to be attested as gardaí next week and allocated to garda stations all over the country, Commissioner Harris announced today.

Training in the garda college will be deferred until further notice. Gardaí who work as tutors and instructors will be deployed to operational duties or essential services.

New rosters are to be introduced, large gatherings will be restricted and only essential garda meetings will take place, in line with Government guidelines.

Annual leave for gardaí will be restricted and a new roster will go into effect from next Monday, as part of the policing plan.

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In order to enhance community support, 210 additional vehicles have been hired.

Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin, Commissioner Harris was asked if alternatives to arrests were being considered.

"Where alternative methods can be used and used appropriately that will be done but in many cases we will still have no option but arrest, and think of more serious offences or where public safety is at risk'" he said.

"We have to be prudent about that as I've said but we are equipping our staff with measures in place to make sure that we can continue obviously to protect society.

"Arrest is inevitably an essential part of that and there is no ban on arrests in any shape or form."

A truckload of new patrol cars arrived at Garda Headquarters today, as part of the 210 new garda cars and vans being introduced as part of the new policing plan for the Corona Virus

Over 320 student gardaí from Templemore are being assigned to stations all over the country as part of increased visibility policing.

Their instructors and tutors are also being deployed on operational duties. There will be additional gardaí at chemists, supermarkets and other public areas.