Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Alcohol Treatment Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 15 September 2020

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Ceisteanna (779)

Thomas Gould


779. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health if services (details supplied) are considered as serving a public health function similar to 12 steps and SMART recovery meetings. [23929/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Officials in the Department of Health have been working with Drug and Alcohol Task Forces and the HSE Social Inclusion Services to ensure that services and supports continue to be provided for those with problem drug and alcohol use, in line with public health advice. Details of services operating during the coronavirus outbreak can be found at www.drugs.ie.

The public health advice relating to Covid-19 is kept under continuing review by the National Public Health Emergency Team and it provides advice to Government in line with the current epidemiological position.

The Government introduced new regulations for indoor events on 31st August, 2020 [(S.I. 326 of 2020) Health Act 1947 (Section 31a – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 4) Regulations 2020]. The regulations, which state that events being organised indoors may have no more than 6 attendees, apply to social, recreational, exercise, cultural, entertainment and community events.

Drug and alcohol support group meetings, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Co-Dependents Anonymous and other similar groups, are not impacted by these restrictions and can continue to operate, subject to adherence to public health guidance relating to physical distancing and other protective measures.

The following public health guidance applies to indoor events:

- Meetings should take place online where possible.

- Where face-to-face meetings are necessary, physical distancing of 2 metres must apply.

- Meetings should be kept as short as possible.

- Managed and organised arrival and departure processes must be in place.

- Where possible, increase ventilation in the meeting facilities.

- The numbers attending should be kept to an absolute minimum. Capacity will depend on the venue and the ability to physically distance and ensure other protective measures are in place, the overall numbers at any one time within the meeting facility should not exceed 50 people.

- To ensure optimal physical distancing, multiple pods of a maximum of 6 people in each is preferable if sufficient space is available and if it is feasible, with no inter-mingling between pods.

I welcome the clarification that addiction support groups are not covered by the regulations governing indoor events. I would advise that support groups proceed with a degree of extra caution, as individuals with addiction problems can be more vulnerable to the risk of Covid-19 due to underlying health conditions, and put in place strict protective measures.