The NPHET, together with a team of national experts, decided which businesses could resume trading in each Phase of the gradual reopening of our economy, and they included driving schools on the list of businesses cleared to reopen on 29 June. It is not the role of the NPHET to provide guidance in relation to specific sectors, as a rule.
A National Return to Work Safely Protocol has been produced under the aegis of the Labour Employer Economic Forum and is the result of a collaborative effort by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the Health Services Executive (HSE) and the Department of Health and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The HSA has in turn produced COVID-19 checklists and templates, based on the Protocol, to help employers, business owners and managers to get their business up and running again and to inform workers about what they need to do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
The RSA has developed protocols, as any employer must, to apply the overall protocols to its particular needs, including in relation to driver testing. In doing so, it was assisted by the overall national protocol and also by the additional templates and checklists from the HSA. I understand that the National Office of Traffic Medicine was also available to the RSA to assist in its task.
In anticipation of the resumption of driver testing on 29 June, the RSA wrote to each Approved Driving Instructor on 22 June, advising them of the planned phased return of driver testing. The Authority included a series of Frequently Asked Questions, which provided details of the protocols being applied to driver testing in order to comply with health requirements in line with Government's Protocol on Returning to Work Safely. These protocols may assist driving instructors in taking the necessary measures resuming their business safely.
However, the RSA cannot dictate to driving schools on how they should run their business, or issue medical advice. It is up to each driving instructor or driving school to protect themselves, their families and communities by adhering to the official Government guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.
However, I have noted the specific point and concerns raised in this correspondence and I have forwarded the Deputy's question and the relevant correspondence to the RSA for a comprehensive response. Please notify my office if you have not received a response from the RSA within 10 days.
I understand that any business which reopens is subject to inspection by Health and Safety Authority, and may face serious sanctions, including closure, if found to be not in compliance with Covid-19 requirements.