Wednesday, 27 May 2020
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
739. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there is specific guidance issued for taxi and minibus companies for reopening their businesses; if drivers will be expected to use specified PPE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7894/20]
In recognition of the economic, social and logistical importance of the overall transport sector, Government designated it among the essential services to continue during the Covid-19 health emergency. Public transport, including the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, remains an important service for those it has continued to carry, including essential workers and those making necessary journeys, and it will continue to play an important role in supporting Government’s Roadmap to Reopening Society and Businessin the weeks and months ahead.
The National Transport Authority (NTA), as the statutory regulator for the SPSV sector, has published information for the SPSV industry which includes guidelines, based on the latest available public health advice, on how to keep vehicles clean to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This document is available on the NTA's website. The NTA are also engaging with public transport operators to determine the practical implications for public transport provision as COVID-19 restrictions are eased in Ireland.
Given the role of the NTA as regulator, I have referred your question to the Authority for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.
The Government-approved Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, and its specific phasing, is based on public health advice. Compliance with the various requirements attaching to each phase of the Roadmap is essential to ensure continued progress against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Roadmap differentiates between outdoor and indoor sporting activity. Subject to compliance with the various public health restrictions and conditions attaching to each phase, both phases one and two of the Roadmap provide for the return of certain outdoor sports and physical activities. It is however necessary for each sporting body to prepare a detailed protocol setting out the manner in which it proposes to achieve compliance with the restrictions applicable to each phase.
In the case of dive schools, this responsibility is to be discharged by The Irish Underwater Council as the National Governing Body for recreational underwater sports in Ireland. I have established an Expert Group on Return to Sport, which will provide guidance to the sporting bodies on a phase by phase basis so that they can prepare for the phased return to sporting activity in line with the Government Roadmap.
741. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a response will issue to the safety requests from bus and rail unions regarding the compulsory use of masks on public transport as the lockdown resulting from Covid-19 continues. [7071/20]
The Government has been clear that continued operation of the public transport sector is important, and it has been designated among the essential services that have continued to operate during the pandemic. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has been working with all transport operators to ensure service continuity, and in this they continue to be guided by the public health advice, including in relation to enhanced cleaning regimes and social distancing measures across the network.
On Friday 15 May, in the context of announcing the first phase of re-openings under the Government's Roadmap to Re-opening Society and Business,the Taoiseach announced new public health advice arising from the considerations of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and presented in a letter from the Chief Medical Officer to the Minister for Health (and published online). The public health advice recommends that members of the public wear face coverings when they are using busy public transport or are in enclosed indoor public areas such as retail outlets. This is recommended as an additional hygiene measure. This public health advice takes the form of a recommendation; it is not mandatory.
742. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he is satisfied with the response rate and failure to fill in self-quarantine documentation of those arriving at air and seaports; and the way in which he plans to respond to these failures and minimalist measures that are being ignored. [7073/20]
As you are no doubt aware, the Department of Health is the lead Government Department in relation to public health matters, including COVID-19 and also measures taken at ports and airports in relation to arriving passengers.
Measures to protect public health are decided by the National Emergency Public Health Team (NPHET) within the Department of Health, and my Department and its agencies follow their advice.
All queries in relation to public health should therefore be directed to the Department of Health.