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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 487-507
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Commencement of Legislation
 Header Item Human Rights
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item Hospital Acquired Infections
 Header Item Health Services Funding
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 993 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 170 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 487-507

Covid-19 Pandemic

 487. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if a matter raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied) will receive a response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7294/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

  1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

  a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

  b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

  c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

  d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

  e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

  2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

  3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

  4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

  As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

  Guidance in relation to specific sectors of the economy should in the first instance be sought from the Government Department with responsibility for that sector.

Commencement of Legislation

 488. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when Part 8 of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (details supplied) will be commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7461/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Part 8 of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a legislative framework for Advanced Healthcare Directives (AHDs). An AHD is a statement made by a person with capacity setting out his or her will and preferences regarding treatment decisions that may arise in the future when he or she no longer has capacity.

My Department remains committed to commencing these provisions as soon as possible. The development of a code of practice to accompany the AHD provisions is a key piece of work to facilitate commencement. The AHD multidisciplinary working group which I established in 2016 has developed a code of practice for Part 8 and submitted it to the Director of Decision Support Services in December 2018 for consideration. When this has been finalised by the Director it will be submitted to me for approval prior to publication.

However, while Part 8 of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 is yet to be commenced, advanced healthcare directives has been established by the Irish courts. I would also refer the Deputy to the HSE's National Consent Policy 2019 which covers situations concerning consent to DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation), and the recently published HSE guidance regarding Cardio-Pulmonary resuscitation and DNAR decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Human Rights

 489. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will conduct a human rights impact assessment of the Covid-19 emergency powers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7554/20]

 532. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if a human rights impact assessment will be carried in regard to the Covid-19 emergency powers. [7307/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 and 532 together.

The purpose of the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions)(Covid-19) Regulations 2020 is to limit the spread of Covid-19 to protect the health of all persons and to save lives. The restrictions imposed on movement and events (gatherings) are consistent with the recommendations of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and have regard to the immediate, exceptional and manifest risk posed to human life and public health by the spread of Covid-19. I believe these restrictions represent a necessary and proportionate response to an unprecedented situation. We have now however moved to a new stage where easing of restrictions has begun. The Regulations were recently amended to extend their date of operation until 8 June 2020 and, in line with public health advice and the Government's Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, to provide for the limited lifting of some of the restrictions imposed by them. As we move forward with further easing of restrictions it is important to keep in mind the on-going threat that Covid-19 represents, taking care to ensure that any loosening of restrictions is on the basis of medical guidance and advice. We must also continue to keep in mind human rights and civil liberty issues and I have asked my officials to ensure that there is continued consideration of these issues as the next stage of easing restrictions proceeds.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 490. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the details regarding the proposed mandatory 14-day quarantine period for international travellers arriving here; the date by which this measure is intended to be introduced; the date by which the measure is to be reviewed; if the measure is applicable to travellers arriving from all destinations outside of the island of Ireland; and the possible end date for such a measure. [7580/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris NPHET has considered issues in relation to overseas travel, informed by World Health Organisation and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control guidance, approaches and learning from other countries, and reports of importation of cases in a number of countries following relaxation of restrictions.

  As the number of indigenous cases here declines and Ireland eases some restrictions, the relative importance of the risk of importation of cases from overseas increases. The impact of any imported cases on disease spread would be all the greater in the context of easing of domestic restrictions and the resultant increased movement and contact between people. In addition, a significant increase in the number of cases in Ireland as a result of importation could have an impact on public compliance with public health guidance and restrictions. Ultimately, the progress towards suppression of community transmission which has been achieved and which should allow for greater resumption of social and economic life in Ireland could be endangered.

  To date, Ireland has introduced a range of travel related measures including issuing advice against non-essential international travel on 13th March. As of 24th April, the public health advice for passengers arriving into the State from overseas is to self-isolate for 14 days.

  From 28th May, it will be a legal requirement for passengers arriving from overseas to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form. The information on the form may be used to assist our contact tracing teams.

  My Department, in consultation with other relevant Departments, is also developing proposals to strengthen the 14 days self-isolation arrangements for travellers from overseas. These proposals will include possible enforcement measures. The issue of imposing mandatory quarantine for a 14 day period, to be considered as the situation evolves, was mentioned in the Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business.

  It is intended that self-isolation arrangements would apply to passengers arriving from overseas, irrespective of the country from which they are travelling. Passengers transiting to another jurisdiction and who will not be residing in the State, including transiting to Northern Ireland, will be exempt. Any mandatory arrangements would be kept under regular review.

  There is ongoing close engagement at political and official levels between my Department and the authorities in both Northern Ireland and the UK. These close contacts will continue over the coming weeks.

  Complimentary measures applying to international travel, such as temperature testing at airports, will remain under consideration but are not envisaged at this time.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 491. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when employees that are cocooning may be advised to return to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7584/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

  1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

  a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

  b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

  c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

  d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

  e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

  2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

  3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

  4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

  As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

  On 9 May the “Return to Work Safely Protocol - COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers and Workers” was published. It provides clear guidance to employers and to workers on the measures that must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Protocol was developed through the cooperation of the Health and Safety Authority, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, the HSE and my Department. It is designed to be used by all workplaces to adapt their procedures and practices to provide protection against the threat of COVID-19.

  In relation to vulnerable or at risk workers the Protocol advises that if an at risk or vulnerable worker cannot work from home and must be in the workplace, employers must make sure that they are preferentially supported to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres. However, employers should enable vulnerable workers to work from home where possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 492. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason Ireland is enforcing a 2 m social distancing limit for restaurants, cafés, pubs and so on while reopening in view of the fact the World Health Organization suggest a 1.5 m distance and many European countries such as France and Italy are able to proceed with only 1 m distancing between consumers and Germany and Norway are enforcing 1.5 m distancing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7723/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

  1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

  a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

  b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

  c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

  d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

  e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

  2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

  3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

  4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

  While the evidence relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus is evolving, it is clear now that the risks of transmission of any respiratory pathogens such as the type that causes Covid-19 are lessened when greater distance is maintained between people. This evidence is kept under review by the National Public Health Emergency Team on a continuing basis.

  As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

  Guidance in relation to specific sectors of the economy should in the first instance be sought from the Government Department with responsibility for that sector.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 493. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the UK Government has recently announced it is making travel from Ireland exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement after travelling by air; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7823/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris NPHET has considered issues in relation to overseas travel, informed by World Health Organisation and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control guidance, approaches and learning from other countries, and reports of importation of cases in a number of countries following relaxation of restrictions.

  As the number of indigenous cases here declines and Ireland eases some restrictions, the relative importance of the risk of importation of cases from overseas increases. The impact of any imported cases on disease spread would be all the greater in the context of easing of domestic restrictions and the resultant increased movement and contact between people. In addition, a significant increase in the number of cases in Ireland as a result of importation could have an impact on public compliance with public health guidance and restrictions. Ultimately, the progress towards suppression of community transmission which has been achieved and which should allow for greater resumption of social and economic life in Ireland could be endangered.

  To date, Ireland has introduced a range of travel related measures including issuing advice against non-essential international travel on 13th March. As of 24th April, the public health advice for passengers arriving into the State from overseas is to self-isolate for 14 days.

  From 28th May, it will be a legal requirement for passengers arriving from overseas to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form. The information on the form may be used to assist our contact tracing teams.

  My Department, in consultation with other relevant Departments, is also developing proposals to strengthen the 14 days self-isolation arrangements for travellers from overseas. These proposals will include possible enforcement measures. The issue of imposing mandatory quarantine for a 14 day period, to be considered as the situation evolves, was mentioned in the Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business.

  It is intended that self-isolation arrangements would apply to passengers arriving from overseas, irrespective of the country from which they are travelling. Passengers transiting to another jurisdiction and who will not be residing in the State, including transiting to Northern Ireland, will be exempt. Any mandatory arrangements would be kept under regular review.

  There is ongoing close engagement at political and official levels between my Department and the authorities in both Northern Ireland and the UK. These close contacts will continue over the coming weeks.

  Complimentary measures applying to international travel, such as temperature testing at airports, will remain under consideration but are not envisaged at this time.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 494. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when an organisation (details supplied) will be able to reopen in line with the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7843/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

  1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

  a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

  b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

  c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

  d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups.

  An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

  2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

  3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

  4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

  As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

  Guidance in relation to specific sectors of the economy should in the first instance be sought from the Government Department with responsibility for that sector.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 495. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the stage of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business during which busking can reconvene in public spaces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7854/20]

Minister Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

  1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

  a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

  b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

  c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

  d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

  e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

  2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

  3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

  4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

  As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 496. Deputy Marian Harkin Information on Marian Harkin Zoom on Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the restrictions that will be necessary in order that weddings can proceed, for example, the number, social distancing and so on will be clarified in view of the fact that between 20 May and the end of 2020 there are close to 15,000 weddings planned here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7871/20]

 498. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to publish guidelines for those organising weddings in the coming months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7920/20]

 500. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if advice will be provided for couples planning a wedding in September and October 2020 in view of the publication of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Businesses as a result of Covid-19; the number of guests that will be permitted at that stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8049/20]

 539. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if social gatherings specifically weddings are permitted to proceed as normal from 10 August 2020 as outlined in phase 5 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7425/20]

 541. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of persons that constitute a small wedding; the number of persons that constitute a large wedding under the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business; the social distancing rules that apply to a large wedding in view of the uncertainty in relation to persons wishing to marry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7430/20]

 610. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne Information on Violet-Anne Wynne Zoom on Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will provide clarification in respect of the number of attendees allowed at weddings held after phase 5 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business in which it states some larger social gatherings can take place, for example, weddings, these will be restricted due to the risks involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8033/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 496, 498, 500, 539, 541 and 610 together.

  The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

  1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

  a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

  b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

  c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

  d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

  e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

  2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

  3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

  4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

  As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

  My Department will not be providing detailed guidance in relation to weddings.

  Guidance in relation to events in specific sectors of the economy should in the first instance be sought from the Government Department with responsibility for that sector.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 497. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú Information on Ruairí Ó Murchú Zoom on Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when nail technicians who work from home will be able to reopen their businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7892/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

  1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

  a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

  b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

  c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

  d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

  e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

  2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

  3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

  4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

  As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

  Question No. 498 answered with Question No. 496.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 499. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if beauty salons are included in the businesses that are scheduled to reopen on 20 July 2020; if there will be restrictions on the type of skincare treatments that can be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7923/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID 19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner. The Roadmap specifies that decisions in relation to which actions will be taken and which public health measures might be lifted will be made in accordance with the Framework for Future Decision-Making which is as follows:

  1. Before each Government consideration of the easing of restrictions, the Department of Health will provide a report to the Government regarding the following on/off trigger criteria:

  a. The latest data regarding the progression of the disease,

  b. The capacity and resilience of the health service in terms of hospital and ICU occupancy,

  c. The capacity of the programme of sampling, testing and contact tracing,

  d. The ability to shield and care for at risk groups,

  e. An assessment of the risk of secondary morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions.

  2. It will also provide risk-based public health advice on what measures could be modified in the next period.

  3. The Government would then consider what restrictions could be lifted, having regard to the advice of the Department of Health as well as other social and economic considerations, e.g. the potential for increased employment, relative benefits for citizens and businesses, improving national morale and wellbeing etc.

  4. It is acknowledged that there is also an ongoing possibility that restrictions could be re-imposed and this process will be carried out on an ongoing basis once every 3 weeks.

  As is clear from the framework, it is the Government rather than I or my Department that will decide on any modifications to the current public health measures in place and those decisions will be informed by the status of the on/off trigger criteria and the public health advice received at the time that a decision is being made.

  Guidance in relation to business activities in specific sectors of the economy should in the first instance be sought from the Government Department with responsibility for that sector.

  Question No. 500 answered with Question No. 496.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 501. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the phase in which psychotherapy practices will able to reopen in accordance with the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8053/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 (SI No. 121 of 2020) were signed by the Minister for Health on 7 April 2020.

Schedule 2 of the Regulations sets out essential services that are exempted from the restrictions and therefore can continue to be provided. This includes (at 15(b)) psychotherapy services as these services are provided by a member of a designated profession within the meaning of section 3 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (No. 27 of 2005).

  Question No. 502 answered with Question No. 486.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 503. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the steps he is taking to ensure the provision of PPE for dental practices and financing the structural changes required to comply with new Dental Council guidelines. [7050/20]

 522. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will work with the Ministers for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Finance and Employment Affairs and Social Protection to formulate an action plan to safeguard the future of the dental profession and introduce measures (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7149/20]

 534. Deputy Peter Burke Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the supports being put in place for dentists; if the HSE will provide appropriate PPE for all dentists, including those that are treating adults; if he has considered the financial issues that apply at present for dentists that cannot trade and may not be in a position to operate in the coming weeks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7349/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 503, 522 and 534 together.

The necessary legislative amendments have now been made and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has worked with the dental profession and in particular the Dental Council, to provide revised guidance for the profession to allow for the resumption of the safe provision of routine care. This is in line with Phase 1 of the Government's Plan for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, from 18 May.

The Government has put in place a suite of measures to support small, medium and larger businesses that are negatively impacted by COVID-19 including a Restart grant for which application can be made on line to local authorities. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has published a Return to Work Safely Protocol, which is designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Health and Safety Authority also provides information and advice for employers and employees in this regard.

A national approach to the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the Public Dental Service of the HSE has been initiated. Dentists contracted by the HSE under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme can apply to the HSE for PPE. Additional PPE, above the normal PPE used in dentistry, may currently be required in certain instances depending on the occupational risk assessment of the dentist. However, the Dental Council is deliberating further on this and definitive clarification is awaited as to if and when such PPE may be required.

Dental Services

 504. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the steps he is taking to ensure that all adults are afforded access to the public emergency dental centres being operated by the HSE in view of the fact current arrangements are only in place for children and persons with special needs. [7051/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The HSE provides dental care to children under 16 and special needs patients through its dental clinics. Independent dental practitioners provide care to medical card holders through the Dental Treatment Services Scheme of the HSE; to the self-employed and retired people who have the required number of social insurance (PRSI) contributions through the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; and to private patients.

The HSE established 38 emergency dental clinics for children and eligible public patients who may not have been able to access a HSE contracted dentist when care was restricted to emergency care. The HSE has reported that it was not aware of any indications that the private patient group had difficulty accessing dental care when it was restricted to emergency care only.

The necessary legislative amendments have now been made and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has worked with the dental profession and in particular the Dental Council, to provide revised guidance for the profession to allow for the resumption of the safe provision of routine care. This is in line with Phase 1 of the Government's Plan for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, from 18 May.

Hospital Acquired Infections

 505. Deputy Paul Donnelly Information on Paul Donnelly Zoom on Paul Donnelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of MRSA cases reported to the HSE in hospitals from January to April 2020. [7065/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is an operational matter the Question has been referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for answer and direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services Funding

 506. Deputy Paul Donnelly Information on Paul Donnelly Zoom on Paul Donnelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if funding will be available for community drug teams to access PPE equipment and for premises redesign to allow for physical distancing and risk assessments. [7066/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Catherine Byrne): Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 507. Deputy Paul Donnelly Information on Paul Donnelly Zoom on Paul Donnelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when ENT outpatient departments will be reopening. [7067/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer all non-urgent elective scheduled care activity, including outpatient clinics. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the World Health Organisation, and the National Action Plan published on 16 March. The trajectory of the disease means there is now an opportunity for increasing the provision of non-covid care including more routine care.

  The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has approved a number of recommendations relating to protecting and maximising the delivery of essential time-critical non-Covid-19 care alongside Covid-19 care. On 5 May, NPHET agreed that its recommendation of 27 March, in regard to the pausing of all non-essential health services should be replaced, in relation to acute care, with a recommendation that delivery of acute care be determined by appropriate clinical and operational decision making. Application of the essential risk mitigating steps set out in the guidance developed under the auspices of the NPHET Expert Advisory group will have operational implications, which will impact on throughput. The HSE is currently engaging with hospital groups to assess the impact of these guidelines on activity. The completion of this work should enable non-urgent elective care to resume within the necessary constraints, including ENT appointments and procedures.

  My Department, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund are currently working together to estimate the impact of Covid 19 on Scheduled Care waiting lists, with a view to informing activity going forward. As the system continues to deliver Covid-19 and non-Covid 19 care side-by-side over a more prolonged period, my Department and the HSE will continue to work closely together to protect essential non-Covid 19 acute care and progress the provision of more routine non Covid-19 care.

  Where possible, hospitals are working to provide services in a different way, which includes virtual clinics for some out-patient department appointments. The HSE website provides details on services currently available and operational in each hospital on its website. This information is reviewed frequently and provides up-to-date announcements on services available at each site (https://www2.hse.ie/services/hospital-service-disruptions/hospital-service-disruptions-covid19.html).


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