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Coronavirus – what public health measures are in place right now?

28 May, 2020

Coronavirus – what public health measures are in place right now?

Where are we at with the Coronavirus? Is social distancing still so important? Can we meet up? We all have a lot of questions about the Coronavirus restrictions so here is some information from the Gov.ie website  https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/c36c85-covid-19-coronavirus/ explaining why it is so important that we keep up social distancing and hygiene habits and why we only travel when we need to. It is tough – but together we are making a difference. #holdfirm

Public health measures in place right now

From Department of Health;  Department of the Taoiseach

Published at: 27 March 2020

Last updated 23 May 2020

 

  • 1. Stay at home
  • 2. The only reasons you can leave your home
  • 3. Small groups outdoors
  • 4. Cultural and social measures
  • 5. Workers
  • 6. Retail, personal and commercial activities
  • 7. Health services
  • 8. Transport and travel

COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease. Everyone is urged to stay at home whenever possible. Staying at home is the best way to minimise the spread of COVID-19 to ourselves, our families and our vulnerable people.

We are currently in Phase 1 of the government’s roadmap for reopening society and business. During Phase 1, you can leave your home for a wider range of reasons. You can also meet in small groups outdoors.

Social distancing should be maintained at all times.

You are advised to:

  • wash your hands well and often
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing, and discard used tissue safely
  • limit your contact with others when out and about
  • distance yourself at least 2 metres away from other people, especially those who might be unwell
  • avoid crowded areas. If an area looks busy, go somewhere else or return at a quieter time
  • wear a face covering in some situations where social distancing is not possible, for example in shops or on busy public transport. Wearing cloth face coverings may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others. Guidance on safe use of face coverings is available here

Know the symptoms of COVID-19.

They are:

  • a fever (high temperature – 38 degrees Celsius or above)
  • a cough – this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties

If you have symptoms, self-isolate and contact your GP.

Stay at home

You should still stay at home whenever possible and only travel for essential reasons. This is the best way to minimise the risk of COVID-19 to your friends, families and communities.

People who are extremely medically vulnerable and people over 70 need to be especially vigilant to protect themselves as they are at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

If you are cocooning, you should continue to follow the public health advice to stay at home as much as possible and avoid physical contact with other people, except to leave home for exercise or a drive up to 5 kilometres.

When you go out for exercise, you may meet people in groups of up to 4. It is essential that you practice social distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart and avoid all physical contact. These measures are to protect you and your friends and family.

If you are cocooning, you should continue to avoid all shops and retail outlets and to stay at 2 metres (6 feet) distance from other people when outdoors at all times. Guidance for those who are cocooning is available here.

The only reasons you can leave your home

Stay at home in all circumstances, except in the following situations:

  • to travel to and from work, if your work cannot be carried out from home
  • to shop for essential food and household goods
  • to attend medical appointments and collect medicines
  • for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people – but excluding social family visits
  • for farming purposes – that is food production or care of animals
  • to engage in physical exercise within 5 kilometres of home, adhering to 2 metre social distancing
  • to meet with friends or family within 5 kilometres in groups of no more than 4, adhering to 2 metre social distancing
  • to escape domestic violence

You can also leave your home to avail of the expanded list of retail services as set out below.

Small groups outdoors

Groups of up to 4 people who are not from the same household can meet outdoors. This can include a family meeting an individual friend or neighbour, a group of individuals meeting outdoors, and two couples meeting outdoors.

Social distancing should be maintained with all people keeping 2 metres apart.

Meetings should be within 5 kilometres of the households of those involved.

You are advised to limit the number of people you meet with outdoors. The more contact you have – the greater you risk getting and spreading the virus.

Cultural and social measures

Outdoor public amenities and tourism sites such as parks, beaches, mountain walks, heritage and cultural sites have reopened.

Outdoor sports facilities such as pitches, tennis courts and golf courses have also reopened.

Social distancing measures must be implemented at all of these sites.

You can practice sport or fitness activities in groups of up to 4 but you must maintain social distancing, minimise contact, and not share equipment.

You should not travel beyond 5 kilometres from where you live to visit any of the above facilities.

Workers

Anyone who can work from home should continue to do so.

A phased return to work for outdoor workers has begun. This includes construction workers, gardeners and so on. A full list of occupations covered by this advice can be accessed here.

Employers are advised to apply the Return to Work Safely Protocol. This has been designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers should also have a COVID-19 Response Plan in place.

Employers should put measures in place to reduce the number of workers interacting with each other onsite at work at any one time. These could include having a smaller number of workers return initially, shift work, and staggered hours.

Workplaces should be adequately prepared for the return of workers. Public health advice to limit the spread of COVID-19 (hand hygiene, good respiratory etiquette, social distancing, wearing of face coverings) should be communicated to all staff. Cleaning schedules, waste disposal arrangements, arrangements to encourage social distancing between workers and alternative arrangements where social distancing is not always possible should be implemented.

If you are feeling sick – you should stay at home and not go to work.

If you have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 – you should stay at home and not go to work.

Employers are advised to proactively engage with official authorities as they reopen and to consult with public health authorities on ways to minimise the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.

Retail, personal and commercial activities

Additional retailers have reopened. All must implement social distancing arrangements in their premises to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. All must also apply the Return to Work Safely Protocol.

Retail outlets that have reopened include:

  1. Retail outlets that are primarily outdoor (for example, garden centres, farmer’s markets, and hardware stores)
  2. Retail outlets, in addition to those that were already open.

These include:

  • opticians and optometrists, outlets providing hearing test services, selling hearing aids and appliances
  • retailers involved in the sale, supply and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycle repair and related facilities
  • hardware stores, builders’ merchants and stores that provide hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance, sanitation and farm equipment, supplies and tools essential for gardening / farming /agriculture
  • retail sale of office products and services for individuals working from home and for businesses
  • retailers providing electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home and businesses

Retailers must put measures in place in their stores to minimise the spread of infection among customers and staff.

These could include:

  • protective screens and barriers
  • operating new queueing approaches
  • limiting the number of customers and staff per store at any one time
  • providing cleaning stations
  • increasing store cleaning and hygiene
  • considering store layout to facilitate social distancing
  • extending opening hours to reduce crowding
  • implementing car park restrictions

Stores should be adequately prepared for the return of employees and customers. Public health advice to limit the spread of COVID-19 (hand hygiene, good respiratory etiquette, social distancing, wearing of face coverings) should be communicated to all staff. Cleaning schedules, waste disposal arrangements, arrangements to encourage social distancing between workers and alternative arrangements where social distancing is not always possible should be implemented.

If you are feeling sick – you should stay at home and not go to work.

If you have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 – you should stay at home and not go to work.

Retailers are advised to proactively engage with official authorities as they reopen and to consult with public health authorities on ways to minimise the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in their stores.

Health services

  • all non-essential surgery, health procedures and other non-essential health services are postponed
  • all visits to hospitals, residential healthcare centres, other residential settings or prisons are stopped with specific exemptions on compassionate grounds
  • pharmacists are allowed by law to dispense medicines outside the dates spelled out in prescriptions according to their own professional judgement

Transport and travel

Travel restrictions are implemented as follows:

  • there is a nationwide restriction on travel outside of 5 kilometres from your home, except for the reasons listed above
  • travel to Ireland’s offshore islands is limited to residents of those islands
  • local authorities have relaxed on-street parking laws to meet the travel needs of workers
  • the arrival of personal non-national maritime leisure vessels is banned (except to exceptions as ‘port in a storm’)

The measures above are reflected in the regulations under the Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 and will be enforced by the Garda Síochána.

 

nicola

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