Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (312)

Michael Collins


312. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if swimming lessons will be allowed to continue in level 3 if comprehensive protective measures are in place (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38227/20]

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Written answers (Question to Tourism)

The Government's Resilience and Recovery Plan 2020-2021 provides for indoor individual training only at Level 3. It also states explicitly that there should be no exercise or dance classes at this level. My Department has issued guidance to the sports and leisure sector confirming that group swimming lessons are not permitted in Level 3. Only one-to-one swimming instruction is permitted in Level 3.

While the Government fully understands the benefits that sport brings to people's overall health and well-being, the measures in place to suppress the disease transmission are intended to minimise the risks to public health while striking the right balance in prioritising and protecting some activities over others. Such activities include health and social care services, education and other essential needs, work and economic activity, and other key societal interests (insofar as possible) such as sports and important family gatherings.

Each level of the framework contains a “basket” of measures which are intended, collectively, to contribute to lowering risk of transmission 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.

While I am pleased to note that COVID-19 data indicates some improvements across a range of indicators, which gives us hope that the epidemiological situation is once again coming under control, it is too early at this point to consider the easing of restrictions, including those currently applying to swimming pools.

Question No. 313 answered with Question No. 309.