Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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569. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the instructions and guidelines being prepared for pub owners in preparation for an opening of the sector; if the number of customers per square metre is being addressed; the signage to be recommended; the hygiene protocols to be observed; if there will be an information pack provided addressing all of the questions and queries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5936/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for all of us in society, since the start of the pandemic, a key focus of Government has been to keep the supports provided for businesses under review and to continue to offer support as they work through the challenges facing them. 

The Return to Work Safely Protocol is designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, as the economy begins to slowly open up, following the temporary closure of most businesses during the worst phase of the current pandemic. The national Return to Work Safely Protocol is designed to translate these measures into a clear compliance framework designed for places of work.  This is to help businesses to reopen so that workers can feel safe returning to work. The Health and Safety Authority will ensure compliance with the Protocol through a range of measures including advice, guidance, inspection and enforcement action as appropriate under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

The Roadmap, phase one of which commenced on May 18th, sets out how we can keep the level of transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible while balancing continuing restrictions in proportion with the positive social and economic benefits which will be brought about by businesses reopening.  It is important to note that all decisions taken by Government on the timing of any lifting of restrictions will be guided by the public health advice at the time.

Businesses should review the Roadmap carefully and carry out a detailed assessment of their activities with regard to the continuing public health measures.  Businesses should, based on their assessment, identify which category in which phase of reopening they will be in a position to reopen safely and in line with the continued public health measures.  It is not necessary for businesses to seek official authorisation to reopen.

The National Return to Work Safely Protocol is a useful guide for businesses in making their assessments and adapting their workplace procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures. It sets out in very clear terms for employers and workers the steps that they must take firstly before a workplace reopens, and then while it continues to operate.

The Protocol is available on www.gov.ie

The HSA will be the lead agency in overseeing compliance with the Protocol in the workplace.  If employers or employees need further guidance on the Protocol, the HSA Helpline can be contacted at 1890 289 389 or wcu@hsa.ie.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland’s (NSAI) recently published COVID-19 Workplace Protection and Improvement Guide and the Covid-19 Retail Protection and Improvement Guide contain useful information that can be applied across many businesses. 

Fáilte Ireland are currently preparing guidelines for the tourism sector in consultation with the tourism industry and relevant authorities.

The Government will continue to monitor the need for sectoral guides and should a need arise, I will work with my Department and Agencies to consider how we would best support or publish such a guide.


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