Written answers

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Covid-19 Pandemic

Marian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim, Independent)
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70. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if swimming lessons will be re-instated during level 3 Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will take into consideration correspondence from a group (details supplied) on the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37291/20]

Photo of Jack ChambersJack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The Government's Resilience and Recovery Plan 2020-2021 provides for indoor individual training only at Level 3. It also states explicitly that there should be no exercise classes at this level. My Department has issued guidance to the sports and leisure sector confirming that group swimming lessons are not permitted in Level 3. Only one-to-one swimming instruction is permitted in Level 3.

While the Government fully understands the benefits that sport brings to peoples overall health and well-being, the measures in place to suppress the disease transmission are intended to minimise the risks to public health while striking the right balance in prioritising and protecting some activities over others. Such activities include health and social care services, education and other essential needs, work and economic activity, and other key societal interests (in so far as possible) such as sports and important family gatherings.

Each level of the framework contains a “basket” of measures which are intended, collectively, to contribute to lowering risk of transmission in alignment with the risk level at that time. The set of measures, individually, do not comprise a list of activities or places which are equally safe. Instead, they are “baskets” of measures which are informed by public health understanding of the disease. The measures in place for each level reflect the prevailing disease situation and recognise that we can and must prioritise some activities over others.

While I am pleased to note that COVID-19 data indicates improvements across a range of indicators, which gives us hope that the epidemiological situation is once again coming under control, it is too early at this point to consider the easing of restrictions, including those currently applying to swimming pools.

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