15 July 2020
The Cabinet have agreed that the current public health measures should remain in place until 10 August. We have agreed that the country will now NOT be progressing to Phase 4 of the Revised Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business.
The priority now must be to get that R number back below ‘1’. By doing so we will give ourselves the best chance possible to fully reopen our schools in late August.
It is also a critical step in the process of making sure that essential non-Covid healthcare continues as quickly as possible.
With this goal in mind, here are the five steps that the Government has decided we must now take to further protect public health.
1. Face coverings
The Government agreed today that face coverings should be worn by all customers in shops and shopping centres across the country. Retail staff will also be required to wear a face covering unless there is a partition between them and members of the public or where there is a distance of 2 metres between them and members of the public. Regulations, with details on enforcement and penalties are in the process of being drafted.
2. Pubs, bars, nightclubs
Given the risk of the spread of infection associated with social gatherings, as well as the evidence of outbreaks from bars and pubs in other countries, pubs, bars, hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will remain closed until 10th August.
Pubs and bars, which are currently operating while serving food, can remain open once they are fully compliant with the public health guidance.
3. Social visits
There is evidence that unrestricted house parties have led to a rise in recent outbreaks of the virus. It is now recommended that social visits to people’s homes will now be limited to a maximum of 10 visitors – from no more than 4 other households.
4. Mass Gatherings
The current restrictions of 50 people at indoor gatherings and 200 people at outdoor gatherings is being extended until 10th August.
5. Foreign Travel and The Green List
We are continuing to advise against all non-essential foreign travel. The global situation is deteriorating and there are growing concerns about re-emergence of the virus in Ireland as a result of overseas travel.
All politicians have had a lot of correspondence on this matter and we are very acutely aware of the anxiety across the country at the prospect of visitors from virus hotspots travelling freely within the country. In response to these very valid concerns, a number of further actions will be taken.
a) The Government will publish a Green List on Monday 20th July. Countries which have a similar risk of infection to Ireland will be included on this list, however I want to emphasise the fact that we will continue to urge people against unnecessary foreign travel. This list will be kept under fortnightly review.
b) There will be an increased presence of compliance staff and increased communication at our ports and airports to make incoming passengers aware of their obligation to fill out Passenger Locator Forms correctly and their requirement to restrict their movements for 14 days.
c) Work is underway to move the Passenger Locator Form information online so that passenger information is more easily accessible for follow up checks and calls by an expanded tracing team.
In support of all of these preventative measures, there will be a renewed communications campaign across all formats and targeting all age groups to ensure the maximum public awareness of these new requirements. In particular, we need to refocus the message for our young people about the positive role they can play in preventing the further spread of the virus.
Should you need any advice or assistance in relation to COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact my offices on;
The Manse, Castle Street,
Tel: (044) 9334857
Tel: (01) 6184059
E-mail: [email protected]