Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (23)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

23. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many businesses selling both essential and non-essential items have not sealed off sections of their premises where non-essential items are sold, allowing customers to browse these areas; his plans to address the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2591/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Under Level 5 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19, only essential retail outlets will remain open. Further information can be found on https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2dc71-level-5/

S.I. No. 701 of 2020 Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 and S.I. No. 4 of 2021 Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No. 10) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/1f150-view-statutory-instruments-related-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/) clearly sets out the temporary restrictions under Level 5. A list of essential services can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c9158-essential-services/ and the list of essential retail outlets at Level 5 can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/60ecc-essential-retail-outlets-for-level-5/

Level 5 does not restrict people from purchasing any product, it does however restrict people from physically going into non-essential stores. This is to stop people making unnecessary journeys, congregating and browsing for non-essential goods, to limit the spread of the virus.

Under the current temporary restrictions click and collect from non-essential retail outlets is no longer permitted. Click or phone and deliver will continue.

We are asking retailers to fully get behind the spirit of the regulations. In particular, we are asking retailers with mixed retail offering which have discrete spaces for essential and non-essential retail to make arrangements for the separation of relevant areas. We are also asking retailers to operate staggered opening and closing hours, as well as facilitating starting and finishing hours, in order to minimise the impact on public transport and to continue to provide dedicated hours for vulnerable customers.

My colleague Minister English has met regularly with Retail Forum members and representatives from the retail grocery and distribution sector to continuously assess adherence to the public health restrictions.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) ‘The Work Safely Protocol’ incorporates the current advice on the Public Health measures needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community and workplaces. The Protocol is available on www.gov.ie. The HSA is the lead agency in overseeing compliance with the Protocol in the workplace. If employers or employees need further guidance on the Protocol, the HSA Helpline can be contacted at 1890 289 389 or wcu@hsa.ie.

In addition, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) have also produced two guidance documents, one for the retail Sector and one for Shopping Centres. Both documents can be found on www.nsai.ie.

I would like to thank retailers and their customers for their efforts at this difficult time. By each of us following the spirit of these new rules and working together we can hopefully return to a lower level of the Living with COVID-19 framework.