Thursday, 8 October 2020

Ceisteanna (255)

Chris Andrews

Ceist:

255. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health the detail of the medical advice which has been provided which prevents amateur soccer clubs playing matches in level 3 areas while allowing amateur GAA and amateur rugby teams to continue playing; the reason one sport is not allowable while others are allowable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29327/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy is aware, the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 was published by the Government on 15 September, 2020. This Plan provides a framework setting out Ireland's approach to managing and living with COVID-19 in a range of areas over the next 6 - 9 months.

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. It acknowledges that sports, arts and other social activities are central to our well-being and that sports and arts are also the world of work for our many in our communities.

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 when socialising and working with others. For now, we must act like we have the virus to protect those around us from infection.

As the Deputy may be aware, Ireland is moving from a short-term emergency response approach to a medium-term approach to managing risk and repairing the damage that COVID-19 has inflicted on society. All counties in Ireland are at Level 3 from midnight Tuesday 6 October. The measures currently in place in place in Dublin and Donegal will be extended by 3 weeks.

The Deputy may wish to note, that under Level 3 restrictions, no matches or other sporting events should take place, with the exception of professional, elite, inter-county and senior club championship, which should all take place behind closed doors.

I would also like to draw the Deputy's attention to the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (NO. 6) Regulations, 2020 (S.I. No. 413 of 2020), signed by me, which came into operation on 7 October and will remain in operation until 28 October, 2020. These Regulations provide for temporary restrictions on a range of indoor and outdoor events including sporting events.

Notwithstanding these measures, I would also draw the Deputy's attention to the recent decision by the GAA to suspend all club games at the current time.

Further information on the public health measures currently in place in relation to matches or other sporting events under the different Levels can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/resilience-recovery-2020-2021-plan-for-living-with-covid-19/.