Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Aontú)
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617. To ask the Minister for Health if he will review the reopening date for the cinema industry; if the reopening of the sector will be brought forward in line with the industry in other European countries and Northern Ireland by allowing cinemas to adopt the measures already presented to his Department to meet the necessary challenges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11075/20]

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 of Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. Phase 1 was introduced on 18 May 2020 and the Government confirmed the move to Phase 2 of Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business from Monday, 8 June 2020. Information and advice about the restrictions that have been eased as part of Phase 2 and the measures that are now in place are available on the Government website at http://www.gov.ie/phase2. 

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:

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

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

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

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

5. 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 described above, it is the Government rather than the Minister or Department of Health 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. The decisions of the Government are published and the guidance in operation at a point in time are available on the Government website at

The purpose of this public health framework approach 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 services described in the Deputy’s question is not a matter 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. 

However, the Deputy may wish to note that Regulation 7(1) of the newly introduced Health Act 1947 (Section 31 A - 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 and includes cinemas, other than outdoor cinemas at which persons attending a screening do so in motor vehicles and remain in the vehicles without exiting the motor vehicles for the duration of such attendance.

The Government also agreed to bring forward actions in the remaining phases of the Roadmap and plan for four phases rather than the five originally indicated. Work is underway to consider how best to achieve this aim and more information will be made available in the coming weeks.


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