Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Photo of James BrowneJames Browne (Wexford, Fianna Fail)
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680. To ask the Minister for Health when persons aged 70 years of age are allowed to return to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5772/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Government has published a Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business to ease the Covid-19 restrictions and reopen Ireland’s economy and society in a phased manner from 18 of May.  

In relation to people aged over 70, the Roadmap states the following:

“The continued protection of people aged over 70 and those with underlying health conditions is in line with recommendations of WHO, ECDC and EU Commission which all recognise the importance of protecting the vulnerable populations. International and national evidence shows that those over 70 years and people with specific underlying health conditions are groups with an elevated risk for COVID-19. On this basis, it is recommended that the cocooning measures for the over 70s and for those in at risk groups be continued”.

Any future changes to the current public health measures and recommendations in place will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria set out in the Roadmap and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.  

 On 9 May the “Return to Work Safely Protocol - COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers and Workers” was published. It provides clear guidance to employers and to workers on the measures that must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Protocol was developed through the cooperation of the Health and Safety Authority, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, the HSE and my Department. It is designed to be used by all workplaces to adapt their procedures and practices to provide protection against the threat of COVID-19.

In relation to vulnerable or at risk workers the Protocol advises that if an at-risk or vulnerable worker cannot work from home and must be in the workplace, employers must make sure that they are preferentially supported to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres. However, employers should enable vulnerable workers to work from home where possible.

The Protocol is not static. There will be ongoing engagement at a national level between stakeholders on its implementation and it is subject to change in line with the latest public health advice or other developments in order to maximise the protection it will afford in our workplaces.

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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681. To ask the Minister for Health when healthcare workers, that is, physiotherapists, podiatry practitioners and so on can return to practice (details supplied). [5773/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 (SI No. 121 of 2020) were signed by the Minister for Health on 7 April 2020.

Schedule 2 of the Regulations sets out essential services that are exempted from the restrictions and therefore can continue to be provided. This includes (at 15(b)) physiotherapy and podiatry services as these services are provided by a member of a designated profession within the meaning of section 3 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (No. 27 of 2005).

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