Wednesday, 1 December 2021
Workplace Ventilation (Covid-19) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]
We all hoped that we would not be in this space but, to use that terrible term, we are where we are. We cannot do anything about the past mistakes. I think it is fair enough to hold the Government accountable and say that opportunities were missed. There has been probably some fly commentary on ventilation. We all know at this stage what the European and the US centres for disease control have said. We know NPHET's expert group on ventilation has spoken about the necessity and the requirement, and that what we basically need at this point in time is HEPA ventilation systems. We just need filtration and ventilation as best as can be done. We know that CO2monitors do not do the business required. They are a simple test. The fact is we do not even have the roll-out of them that was required. These are the small things. These are the tools. None of them are magic bullets but we need to get them enacted as soon as possible.
Other people have spoken as well that there has been a difficulty with and a lack of clarity in messaging, and that is accepting that this is not simple for the Government or anybody else. The fact is, initially last week, we had the NPHET guidelines, and then we had the failure of any commentary by the Government for a period that allowed annoyance to build up and people to be unsure, particularly those who do not make a detailed study of gov.ieor read the ins and outs of letters sent to Government from NPHET or any of those things. Why should they? They are just getting on with their lives and just want a clear message, but it is beyond that. We know the situation we are in now. We need the Government to step up to the mark because we have this scenario concerning guidelines around events that people need to think about going to. We already know there is an impact on certain businesses, if we are talking about taxi drivers. We are talking about this as we see reductions in the employment wage subsidy scheme, EWSS. We know the difficulties around the pandemic unemployment payment, PUP. All of this needs to be revisited.
If we are going to be serious, then we need to play our part around the TRIPS waiver. We need to ensure we have the capacity on testing, vaccinations and boosters. We need to do it on an international basis so we need to play our part, and the European Commission has to play its part. Then it is the TRIPS waiver and whatever mechanisms are necessary to ensure all of us are safe.