Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Health
I recently signed the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 (SI No. 206 of 2020) which are in operation from 8 June 2020 until 29 June 2020.
These regulations replace the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 (SI No. 121 of 2020) and subsequent amendments which were in in effect until 8 June 2020. The new Regulations provide for the unwinding of certain restrictions provided for in the earlier Regulations and also provide for continued restrictions for some business and services.
The purpose of this regulatory approach to the implementation of the public health framework is to inform a slow, gradual, step-wise and incremental reduction of the current public health social distancing measures, in a risk-based, fair and proportionate way with a view to effectively suppressing the spread of COVID-19 disease while enabling the gradual return of social and economic activity. The Government, informed by the public health advice provided by the Department of Health, has decided to take a gradual re-opening of society and the economy as risk to human health and life caused by COVID-19 remain and lifting the measures in place carries considerable great uncertainty and risk.
Regulation 7(1) of the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 provides that the occupier, manager, or any other person in charge shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that members of the public are not permitted, or otherwise granted, access to a premises ..., or to a part of such premises, where a relevant business or service is carried on or otherwise provided. The relevant businesses or services to which this provision applies are listed in Schedule 2 of the regulation. The businesses and services described which are not permitted to open at this time include gymnasiums (whether indoors or outdoors).
The Deputy may also wish to note the Return to Work Safely Protocol which was published by my colleague the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation on Saturday 9 May. This detailed guidance document was developed to assist employers and employees in the coming period. The Protocol is available at
The protocol is mandatory and it applies to all workplaces across the economy. I am aware that there is significant planning required to move to a new model of operating with the challenges of COVID-19. It is however, the responsibility of employers (and self-employed persons) to apply a risk based approach to returning to work and to prepare to apply the precautions necessary to comply fully with the public health advice. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is tasked with providing advice and support to employers and employees on what and how COVID-19 measures are applied in the workplace.
The services described in the Deputy’s questions are not matters within the remit of my Department. Guidance in relation to specific sectors of the economy should in the first instance be sought from the Government Department with responsibility for that sector.