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Covid-19 Pandemic

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 3 June 2020

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Questions (654)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

654. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the way in which the recommended social distance can be reduced to 1.5 metres in line with the European average pending health advice and continuous decreasing rates of transmission. [9113/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

While the evidence relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus is evolving, it is clear now that the risks of transmission of any respiratory pathogens such as the type that causes Covid-19 are lessened when greater distance is maintained between people. This evidence is kept under review by the National Public Health Emergency Team on a continuing basis.

As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

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