Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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679. To ask the Minister for Health if a reply will issue to correspondence received from a person (details supplied) relating to guidelines for hair salons that will be reopening from 20 July 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11401/20]

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 the 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:

- The latest data regarding the progression of the disease, 

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

- The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

- The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

- 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 

I would like to draw the Deputy's attention to the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 (SI No. 206 of 2020) signed by me, which came into operation on 8 June 2020 until 29 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 services mentioned by the Deputy are addressed within the Regulations. 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 risks to human health and life caused by COVID-19 remain and lifting the measures in place carries considerable great uncertainty and risk.

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. This work, once completed will form part of the Government's considerations.


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