Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (12)

Neale Richmond

Question:

12. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures in place to help retail workers enforce the mandatory face covering rule and protect them from abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6369/21]

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/. The decision to move to full scale Level 5 was not taken lightly and all factors were considered. All measures in Level 5 will stay in place until at least March 5 2021.

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/.

The issue of customer non-compliance has been raised by retailers with my officials. I understand that this relates to a minority of customers as most continue to respect the regulations as well as retailers and fellow shoppers.

However, my Department’s Communications Unit continues to raise awareness around this issue and liaises with Garda Communications and other Government departments to further promote this messaging.

An Garda Síochána are engaging with retailers and enforcing the regulations where necessary.

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.

Earlier this week, Minister English released a statement thanking shoppers for wearing face masks and respecting retail workers in essential stores. He reiterated that by law, face coverings must be worn while shopping. Keeping to these guidelines protects other shoppers and retail staff.

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 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.