I propose to take Questions Nos. 1194, 1232, 1237, 1270 and 1473 together.
At the outset I would like to say that I fully understand how important exercise and other cultural activities are for people's physical and mental health, particularly in the winter months.
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 the next 6 - 9 months.
The Plan sets out five levels of response, each with a number of measures designed to help us all lower COVID-19 transmission and setting out what is permitted at that moment in time. It aims to allow society and businesses to be able to operate as normally as possible, while continuing to suppress the virus. Each level outlines what is permitted for social or family gatherings, work and public transport, bars, hotels and restaurants, exercise activities and religious services.
The Plan reflects a careful consideration of the impact of the introduction of restrictions on employment and livelihoods, keeping as many businesses open as possible at different stages, while acknowledging that some businesses and services are critical. It acknowledges that sports, arts and other social activities are central to our well-being and that sports and arts are also the world of work for our many in our communities.
As I am sure you 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.
You will be aware that in response to the rapidly deteriorating epidemiological situation across the country, Ireland has moved to level 5 of Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19. This means closing many businesses and amenities to reduce the person-to-person contacts which allow the virus to spread.
At level 5, gyms and leisure centres are closed and no exercise or dance classes are permitted. Individual training only is allowed and people must exercise within 5km of home. It is possible to meet with 1 other household in an outdoor setting which is not a home or garden, such as a park, including for the purpose of exercise.
No organised indoor gatherings such as events in theatres and cinemas or other arts events (excluding sport), are permitted at level 5.
The Government's guidelines for indoor gatherings and exercise and sporting events at all levels of the Plan are available at: https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/resilience-recovery-2020-2021-plan-for-living-with-covid-19/. Level 5 guidance from Sport Ireland is available at: https://www.sportireland.ie/news/return-to-sport-expert-group-issues-guidance-to-sports-sector.