Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (15)

Bríd Smith

Question:

15. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will clarify the situation regarding the definition of essential and non-essential workplaces and services during the Covid-19 crisis and level 5 restrictions and specifically the definition that applies to the construction sites of companies, such as a company (details supplied); the specific definition applied to FDI firms and construction work; if the HSA has the authority to close down a workplace or retail outlet that is deemed to be non-essential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2506/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Under the Government Level 5 restrictions only businesses considered essential are allowed to remain open. The limited list of essential businesses, services and construction sites, which includes certain large projects in the Exporting/FDI sector, that can remain open is set out on www.gov.ie.

To implement the new measures S.I. No. 4 of 2021 Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No. 10) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 was signed by the Minister for Health on 7 January. Paragraph 6 (2) (a) of S.I. 4 of 2021 deals with the exemptions in relation to construction and amends Part 2 of the Schedule of the Principal Regulations - S.I. No. 701 of 2020 Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020.

This amendment provides for the continuation of construction and development projects which are necessary for maintenance of supply chains in respect of manufacturing or information and communication services specified in the Schedule of S.I. 701 of 2020. The manufacturing services referenced include: chemicals, pharmaceutical products, medical devices, IT equipment, products necessary for national and international supply chains, personal hygiene products, etc. Construction and development projects relating to general purpose facilities (for example office accommodation) in respect of such manufacturing services are excluded from the scope of the exemption.

There is a separate exemption in S.I. 4 of 2021 that provides for construction and development projects that relate to the direct supply of medical products for Covid-19.

All construction projects covered by the exemption must continue to adhere to the stringent public health measures set out in the Work Safely Protocol. The Health and Safety Authority will continue to act as the lead agency in relation to the assessment of compliance with the Work Safely Protocol across all businesses, including construction sites, which remain open at the various levels of restrictions. Up to 700 additional inspectors from other State Agencies and Bodies are also available to also carry out compliance inspections across sectors of the economy.

I would add that the Health and Safety Authority has no role in determining whether any business, including construction sites, is essential or not. Concerns about whether or not any business has remained opened in accordance with the relevant regulations should be brought to the attention of the Gardaí.