Thursday, 11 March 2021

Questions (1)

John Lahart

Question:

1. Deputy John Lahart asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if garden centres fully qualify as essential retail outlets under level 5 restrictions; if not, if partial restrictions apply; and if his attention has been drawn to concerns within the industry with the arrival of spring which is a traditionally busy time for the sector. [13613/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

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/.

Under Level 5, only essential retail outlets will remain open and all measures in Level 5 will stay in place until at least April 5 2021. Further information can be found on https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2dc71-level-5/.

It is a matter for each business to review the regulations and decide if they can or cannot operate under the current temporary restrictions.

Level 5 does not restrict people from purchasing any product, it does however restrict people from physically going into non-essential stores, including clothes 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 while click and collect from non-essential retail outlets is no longer permitted, click or phone and delivery can 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.

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

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

The Government has introduced a wide range of supports to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and they can be found on the Department’s website https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

It is important to monitor gov.ie for the latest information, public health advice and guidelines from Government in relation to COVID-19.