Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Photo of Anne RabbitteAnne Rabbitte (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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694. To ask the Minister for Health the number of persons that may be restricted from attending large social gatherings such as weddings as referenced in the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business under phase 5 of community health measures; the meaning of to be restricted in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5813/20]

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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823. To ask the Minister for Health if an update will be provided for couples planning a wedding in September or October in view of the publication of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Businesses as a result of Covid-19; the number of guests that may be permitted at that stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7040/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 694 and 823 together.

The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party)
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695. To ask the Minister for Health the average gap in days between the date that Covid-19 victims died and when they are officially reported as deaths. [5814/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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696. To ask the Minister for Health if the proposed reopening of cinemas that can operate effective social distancing within their cinemas will be elevated to phase 3 of the reopening plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5815/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria: 

a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease, 

b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens  and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

In general, with the exception of public health advice, the responsibility for providing guidance in relation to a particular sector or on a specific activity remains with the Government Department with responsibility for that sector or activity.

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