I propose to take Questions Nos. 817 and 944 together.
Firstly, I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to ensuring a balanced and proportionate response to COVID-19 by finding ways to implement public health measures in response to the pandemic in a way that is fair, reasonable and proportionate.
As the Deputies will be aware, in response to the rapidly deteriorating epidemiological situation across the country, Ireland has moved to level 5 of the Government’s medium-term strategy for dealing with COVID-19, Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-1
This 5 level Framework 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.
Any measures introduced at any level of the Plan are aimed at limiting the spread and damage of COVID-19, and are necessary to protect 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.
As I'm sure the Deputies 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. The number of people allowed to gather in different scenarios in the Government's Framework are based on a review of international practice and the judgment of public health experts. 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.
With regard to domestic travel, restrictions apply at Levels 3, 4 and 5 of the Plan and these restrictions are set out in the Plan.
The public health advice relating to Covid-19 is kept under continuing review by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and it provides advice to Government in line with the current epidemiological position.