Written answers

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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302. To ask the Minister for Health if he will respond to representations (details supplied) regarding wedding issues and the numbers allowed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9249/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy is aware, Ireland is currently at level 5 of the Government's medium-term Plan Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19, which sets out Ireland's approach to managing and living with COVID-19.

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.

At Level 5, 6 guests may attend the wedding and wedding ceremony irrespective of venue. This does not include the persons getting married or persons attending in a professional capacity. The various limits at all levels in the Government's Plan are all designed to reduce the number of households mixing with each other and cut down the virus’s chances of spreading into more homes. 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 I'm 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. In certain settings, such as weddings, higher noise levels due to music, can force people into close proximity, requiring them to raise their voices or shout to communicate thus increasing the risk of spreading the virus to others.

It is not possible to say what public health measures will be in place in the future. The public health advice relating to Covid-19 is kept under continuing review by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), by my Department and by the Government . The measures in place and the public health advice have been adapted to the changing circumstances and this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.

Details of the public health measures currently in place for weddings can be found at:-

You may also wish to note that Fáilte Ireland has provided guidelines for the hospitality industry which includes guidance on weddings and is available at: -

Réada Cronin (Kildare North, Sinn Fein)
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303. To ask the Minister for Health the risk assessment that was presented to his Department and thereafter to Cabinet with regard to building sites and Covid-19 transmission; if a cost-benefit analysis of closure was undertaken and presented to his Department and thereafter to Cabinet; the information on which public health officials work in relation to Covid-19 transmission in the construction industry vis-à-vis- that used by their European counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9270/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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As you will be aware, Ireland is at level 5 of the Government's Strategy, Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 . This 5-level framework 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.

The various limits at all levels in the Government's Plan and the continuing imposition of public health measures is necessary to reduce transmission of COVID-19 through a reduction in the movement of people, congregation and interactions. The measures in place for each level reflect the prevailing disease situation and recognise that we can and must prioritise some activities over others.

Information in relation to the public health measures for construction at level 5 is available at:-

I would also draw your attention to the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (NO. 10) Regulations 2020 Regulation (S.I. 701 of 2020), as amended by S.I. No. 4 of 2021, which sets out what are essential construction and developments.

Statutory Instruments related to the Covid-19 pandemic are available here:-

At the start of January, transmission levels were at exceptionally high levels and this required the application of very severe restrictions to reduce opportunities for transmission as much as possible, which included the shutdown of the construction sector.

You may wish to note that my Department does not have responsibility for the construction sector. The shutdown of the construction sector (including the construction and developments permitted to continue), was confirmed by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage by press release on the 6 January, 2021. Further information on these projects is available here:-

Photo of Carol NolanCarol Nolan (Laois-Offally, Independent)
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304. To ask the Minister for Health if there are obstacles to the private purchase of Covid-19 vaccinations from either within or outside the EU by private Irish medical organisations or hospitals, private companies or philanthropic organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9271/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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Ireland is participating in a Procurement Exercise being operated by the European Commission on behalf of Member States to procure suitable, safe and effective vaccines, in sufficient quantities, to combat COVID-19.

While there is nothing that specifically restricts the method of sale and supply of vaccines against Covid-19, as Conditional Market Authorisations are based on the quality, safety and efficacy aspects of the medicinal product, the State is taking measures to ensure that sufficient vaccines will be made available to vaccinate any persons seeking to be vaccinated such that such private purchase is unlikely to be necessary.

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