As the Deputy will know, a Memorandum of Understanding was formally agreed by the Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland on Tuesday 7 April. The MOU was entered into on my behalf as Minister for Health and on behalf of the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland to strengthen North South co-operation on the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MOU focuses on facilitating greater co-operation and consistency of approach wherever possible on areas such as public health messaging, programmes of behavioural change, evidence base/ modelling and contact tracing.
I have been in ongoing contact with the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic in relation to how each health system is implementing various public health responses. In addition, there has been significant engagement between the CMOs, and officials in both jurisdictions.
Calls are held regularly including at a technical level to facilitate information sharing on topics such as modelling, testing and contact tracing approaches, tracing apps and travel measures.
The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers. Discussions have and will continue to take place on respective plans for the gradual and controlled easing of restrictions, given the importance of implementing consistent approaches wherever possible. All parties recognise that in terms of public health measures in both jurisdictions, that it will be important to maintain strong North/South collaborative arrangements.