Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Health
509. To ask the Minister for Health if consideration has been given to allowing children’s extracurricular activities to continue outside of school in a private play setting, be it dance or sporting classes, at level 3 with the children in pods; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30068/20]
544. To ask the Minister for Health if yoga studios are permitted to operate under level 3 restrictions; and if they are able to facilitate classes that adhere to all other advice with regard to social distancing and other guidelines. [30227/20]
568. To ask the Minister for Health if private dance and music schools are classified as education under the Plan for Living with Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30338/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 478, 489, 509, 512, 541, 544 and 568 together.
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 livelihoods, 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.
As the Deputy is aware, 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 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 can be found at www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/resilience-recovery-2020-2021-plan-for-living-with-covid-19/.
The Deputy may wish to know that the Swim Ireland CEO and Chairman met recently with the Minster for Sport Jack Chambers T.D. to discuss a number of issues, including pool closures in a Level 3 environment.
Classes, including swimming, yoga, pilates, dance and sports are regarded as exercise and sporting events under the Plan and where possible, such classes can be held online.
Under Levels 3, 4 and 5 indoor training is only permitted on an individual basis, therefore exercise and sporting events, including classes, cannot take place. Under Level 2 restrictions, indoor dance classes, training and exercise can take place in pods of up to 6 people, once sufficient space is available and strict public health protocols are in place. Under Level 1 of the Framework, there is no specific capacity limit, with capacity guided by what can be accommodated safely in the venue while ensuring all protective measures are in place, including social distancing.
Further information on exercise and sporting events under the Plan is available at: www.gov.ie/en/publication/resilience-and-recovery-plan-for-living-with-covid-19-your-questions-answered/#exercise-and-sporting-events and n he Ireland Active website at .