I propose to take Questions Nos. 926 to 929, inclusive, and 931 together.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a time of uncertainty and anxiety for everyone and particularly for those who are affected by drug and alcohol addiction. The restructuring of services, social distancing measures and self-isolation can be particularly difficult for those who are trying to remain drug or alcohol free and for those who are in recovery.
The Government plan for living with Covid-19 details how non-Covid health and social care services will be resumed, especially during the challenging winter months. This includes planning for the safe resumption of drug and alcohol services, including community-based services, residential programmes and recovery support groups.
As you are aware Dublin moved to level 3 from midnight on 19th September for a period of three weeks. Under the Plan no organised indoor gatherings can take place while level 3 restrictions are in place. This level 3 restriction applies to all indoor meetings. However, organised outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people are still permitted.
It is important that addiction services take place in a safe environment to safeguard the health of service users and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 when level 3 restrictions are in place.
I recently met with representatives of drug and alcohol task forces to discuss the restoration of drug and alcohol services. Officials from my Department have also engaged with Alcoholics Anonymous on the provision of guidance for their local group meetings.
I believe drug and alcohol services provide essential supports for people with addiction issues, including gambling. The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, TD and I are committed to the restoration of these essential addiction treatment services, as quickly as possible.