Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (285)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

285. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if a matter (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7713/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy is aware, the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 provides a framework setting out Ireland's approach to managing and living with COVID-19.

The framework sets out five levels of response, each with a number of measures designed to help us all lower COVID-19 transmission and setting out what is permitted at that moment in time. It is framed to account for periods during which there is a low incidence of the disease, with isolated clusters and low community transmission, through to situations where there is a high or rapidly increasing incidence, widespread community transmission and the pandemic is escalating rapidly in Ireland and globally. It recognises the need for society and business to be allowed to continue as normally as possible and is designed so that either national or county level restrictions can be applied.

The Plan 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.

As I am sure the Deputy 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. For this reason, we are all asked to be extra careful. For now, we must act like we have the virus to protect those around us from infection.

As you are aware, Ireland is currently at level 5 of the plan. The current Covid-19 restrictions limit the attendance at funerals to 10 mourners. Priority must be given to families themselves in attending funerals, whether this is in the homes of the deceased or in the Funeral Home. Likewise attendance in churches and graveyards is restricted to families.

In this third wave we now sadly see a significant increase in the numbers of funerals. Concerns are being raised regarding the dangers of dropping our guard at funerals when we are at this critical time in trying to level off the deadly curve. Reports of significant numbers of people congregating in homes of bereaved persons and in funeral homes, or at churches and graveyards before or after services, are very concerning.

The inclement weather we have at this time of year can result in those lining funeral routes at times congregating in doorways of churches and other areas along the route to seek shelter. Every contact increases the risk of transmission of this highly contagious virus. Those wishing to express their condolence should do so through social media, online websites, text or card.

It is vital, despite our natural emotions and desire to be close to and hug other people, to respect the situation we find ourselves in as we try to convey our sympathies to bereaved families. It is important to remember our objective – to reduce the spread of the virus - and that we should all do what is right, even if it is different and difficult.

Further information on funerals can be found on the government website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2dc71-level-5/#attendance-at-funerals-limited-to-10.

Question No. 286 answered with Question No. 277.