Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Health
As the Deputy is aware, the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19was published by the Government on 15 September, 2020. This Plan provides a framework setting out Ireland's approach to managing and living with COVID-19 in a range of areas over the next 6 - 9 months.
The framework sets out five levels of response, each with a number of measures designed to help us all lower COVID-19 transmission and setting out what is permitted at that moment in time. It is framed to account for periods during which there is a low incidence of the disease, with isolated clusters and low community transmission, through to situations where there is a high or rapidly increasing incidence, widespread community transmission and the pandemic is escalating rapidly in Ireland and globally. It recognises the need for society and business to be allowed to continue as normally as possible and is designed so that either national or county level restrictions can be applied.
The Plan reflects a careful consideration of the impact of the introduction of restrictions on employment and livelihood's, keeping as many businesses open as possible at different stages, while acknowledging that some businesses and services are critical. It acknowledges that sports, arts and other social activities are central to our well-being and that sports and arts are also the world of work for our many in our communities.
As I am sure the Deputy can appreciate, COVID-19 spreads when individuals and groups come into close contact with one another, enabling the virus to move from one person to another. COVID-19 is infectious in a person with no symptoms, or for the period of time before they develop symptoms. For this reason, we are all asked to be extra careful when socialising and working with others. For now, we must act like we have the virus to protect those around us from infection.
Ireland has moved from a short-term emergency response approach to a medium-term approach to managing risk and repairing the damage that COVID-19 has inflicted on society. All counties in Ireland are now at Level 3 of the Plan for living with Covid-19 until 28th October. Further information on the public health measures in currently in place in relation to the different Levels can be found at www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/resilience-recovery-2020-2021-plan-for-living-with-covid-19/.
With specific regard to the Deputy's concern in relation to house parties, I would recall that the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 6) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 413 of 2020) provide that a person may only organise an event to be held in a private dwelling for social or recreational reasons where the person takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the persons attending reside in no more than one other household and do not exceed 6 in number.