Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Health
521. To ask the Minister for Health if yoga studios will be allowed reopen with immediate effect in view that dance studios were allowed to reopen with pods of one, up to a maximum of 15 in a room (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44191/20]
546. To ask the Minister for Health if his Department has been in contact with yoga teachers with regard to the restrictions placed on indoor yoga due to Covid-19; and his plans to engage with them to allow yoga to proceed, in a safe and secure manner under level 3 restrictions. [44272/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 521 and 546 together.
The Government appreciates that there are many aspects of normal life that have been altered by the emergence of COVID-19, and the response that has been required. It also recognises that these changes are difficult for many people. However, it is the case at present that many of the things which we have previously taken for granted are no longer accessible in the same way due to the risks that they pose and the ease with which this virus spreads in particular conditions.
The Government’s medium-term Strategy Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19, sets out Ireland's approach to managing and living with COVID-19, in a range of areas, over a period of 6 – 9 months.
The Plan aims to allow society and businesses to operate as normally as possible, while protecting our key priorities of supporting and maintaining health and social care services, keeping education and childcare services open and protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities.
The Plan consists of 5 levels. Each level sets out what is permitted for social or family gatherings, work and public transport, bars, hotels and restaurants, exercise activities and religious services, at that moment in time. Each level contains a “basket” of measures which are intended, collectively, to contribute to lowering the risk of transmission of Covid-19 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.
As the Deputies 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. The numbers of people allowed to gather in different scenarios in the Government Plan are based on a review of international practice and the judgment of public health experts. It seeks to balance the risks of different types of gatherings against the desire to allow normal activities to proceed in so far as possible.
As the Deputies are aware, Ireland is currently at level 3 of the Plan. Information in relation to the public health measures in place at all levels of the Plan, including information in relation to indoor gatherings and indoor and exercise classes and is available at: www.gov.ie/en/publication/ad569-level-3/.