Public health measures for COVID-19

Current measures

The Government has introduced measures to control the spread of COVID-19.

You should continue to follow advice on how you can protect yourself and others, including advice on social distancing.

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

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

Level 5 is now in place

Every county in Ireland is on alert Level 5 in the 'Plan for Living with COVID-19' from midnight on Wednesday, 21 October 2020. Ireland will be on Level 5 restrictions for 6 weeks.

Level 5 means that you are asked to stay at home, with the exception of exercise within 5 kilometres of your home. There are no social or family gatherings. You can meet with 1 other household in an outdoor setting which is not a home or garden, such as a park, including for exercise.

Only essential workers can travel to work and only essential retail and essential services can remain open. Construction and manufacturing can continue to operate.

Read about the restrictions that apply for Level 5.

Emergency legislation

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.

Current restrictions are set out in the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No. 8) (pdf), which currently apply until 9 November 2020 (expected to change to 1 December when the underlying legislation has been amended by the Oireachtas). These regulations require all non-essential services and retail outlets to close.

In addition, a member of Garda Síochána can ask you to return to your place of residence if you have left without a reasonable excuse. Failure to comply with such a direction is an offence.

Organising a social or recreational event in a dwelling or outdoors may also be an offence depending on those attending.

The following laws are also in place 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.

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 of someone who is a potential source of infection and risk to public health, if it 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

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 further extended 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. On 4 August 2020, the start of Phase 4 was delayed for a further 3 weeks. Additional measures were announced on 18 August 2020.

Resilience and Recovery 2020–2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 (pdf) was published on 15 September 2020. Level 2 applied to all counties.

Level 3 was introduced for Dublin from midnight 19 September 2020, for Donegal from midnight 25 September and for all other counties from midnight 6 October 2020. Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal moved to Level 4 from midnight 15 October 2020. Every county in Ireland moved to Level 5 from midnight on 21 October 2020.

Page edited: 22 October 2020