Public health measures for COVID-19

Introduction

The Government has introduced measures to control the spread of COVID-19. Restrictions have been in place across Ireland since March 2020.

You should continue to follow advice on how you can protect yourself and others.

On 15 September 2020, the Government introduced a framework to manage the pandemic, called the Plan for living with COVID-19.

The framework sets out 5 levels of restrictions. Level 1 has the least restriction and Level 5 has the most. For more information on the different levels see Plan for living with COVID-19. The level that applies to each county depends on the current COVID-19 situation in that county.

Measures that are in place now

At present, Level 2 restrictions apply to all counties. However, Level 3 restrictions are in place in Dublin from midnight on 18 September 2020 for at least 3 weeks. Weddings and funerals can have up to 50 people in attendance until 21 September 2020 in Dublin. From 21 September only 25 people can attend weddings and funerals in Dublin (under Level 3 restrictions).

Emergency legislation

Public health measures

On 20 March 2020, the President signed the Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 into law.

The Act gives the Minister for Health the power to make regulations to introduce measures to slow down the spread of the virus.

Under this Act, the Minster can make regulations to:

  • Restrict travel to and from Ireland
  • Restrict travel within Ireland to stop people moving to and from affected areas
  • Stop gatherings of people from taking place, and to make organisers of these gatherings put safeguards in place to prevent the virus from spreading
  • Make businesses (such as shops) put safeguards in place to protect their staff and customers
  • Close premises, including schools

Laws in place now

The Government continues to issue guidance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It has also passed laws that make it an offence to do or not do certain things.

These laws are in place until 5 October 2020:

This law applies until 9 November 2020.

Detentions and penalties

During the COVID-19 emergency, various regulations have given An Garda Síochána additional powers, including arrest without warrant. These have been amended most recently by Statutory Instrument 326 of 2020 (pdf).

Offences are punishable by a fine of up to €2,500, up to six months imprisonment, or a combination of both.

The Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 also allows for detention where it is believed by a qualified medical person that a person is:

  • A potential source of infection and
  • A risk to public health and
  • Detention is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19

A person may be detained if they refuse to remain in a specified place like their home or a hospital, or cannot be isolated in any other way.

A person detained will be tested as soon as possible and will be able to ask for a review of their detention by an independent person on the grounds they are not a source of infection. Failure to comply with a detention, or interfering with the detention of a person will be a criminal offence.

Previous measures

The Government published Ireland’s National Action Plan in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) (pdf).

The first stage of the plan to respond to coronavirus in Ireland was the containment strategy which aimed to find all cases early, identify contacts and stop it spreading. The second stage was the delay stage, which aimed to slow down the spread of the virus, by minimising contact between potentially infected people and healthy people.

Measures to delay the spread of the virus taken on 12 March 2020 included closing schools, colleges, childcare facilities and state-run cultural institutions. Hospital visits were restricted. Pubs were advised to close. These measures were extended, along with further measures announced on 24 March 2020.

On 10 April, the measures were extended until 5 May 2020. On 1 May, it was announced that most of the measures would be extended from 5 May to 18 May 2020. Phase 1 of the roadmap for reopening society and business started on 18 May and lasted until 8 June 2020. Phase 2 of the roadmap for reopening society and business started on 8 June and lasted until 29 June 2020.

On 15 July 2020, it was announced that Phase 3 would be extended by 3 weeks. This means that Phase 4 was due to start on 10 August 2020. On 4 August 2020, the start of Phase 4 was delayed for a further 3 weeks. Resilience and Recovery 2020–2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 (pdf) was published on 15 September 2020.

Page edited: 18 September 2020