At midnight tonight, Ireland will be placed on Level 5 of the Plan for Living with Covid-19 for a period of six weeks.
This an anxious time for all of us. The virus is spreading through all parts of the country. We need to act now to protect our priorities which are: keeping schools and childcare open, keeping non-Covid health services going and protection of our vulnerable.
I’ve had emails and calls from constituents looking for more information on these Level 5 restrictions. I have gathered the most frequent questions and answered them below. If you have a question that is not on the list, please get in touch with my office at firstname.lastname@example.org
I know that many people and businesses will be deeply impacted by the move to Level 5. There is a range of supports available, and my office is happy to help you apply and access these supports. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require any assistance.
How does this impact on schools and childcare?
Our school and creche communities have put enormous effort and energy into re-opening our schools and keeping them safe over the first half of this term. Transmission rates of Covid-19 in schools are low, much lower than the rate currently in the community. Schools and childcare facilities are to remain open. A significant factor in the decision to move to Level 5 is that by doing so we can support our schools to continue to operate safely.
How does this impact on children?
Children’s health and wellbeing is a priority and minimising the impact of the pandemic on then is important. This is why we are also allowing children’s sports training to continue non-contact, outdoors in pods of 15, and playgrounds will remain open with protective measures.
Can I meet anyone outside my household during Level 5?
Yes. You may meet one other household outdoors, this does not include private gardens. No social or family gatherings should take place in other settings.
Under what circumstance can I travel outside my 5km?
- Travel to and from work, where work involves providing an essential service.
- To attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products.
- For vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, and in particular for those who live alone, as part of an extended household but excluding social family visits.
- To attend a wedding or funeral.
- For farming purposes i.e. food production and/or care of animals.
- To visit a grave.
What are Support Bubbles?
Support bubbles are designed to support those who risk isolation. You can form a support bubble with one other household, and you can then act as one extended household. You must still keep physical distance from people outside your support bubble. You can only form a support bubble with one other household if they are not already part of a support bubble.
You can form a support bubble if:
- you are living alone with children under the age of 18
- you live alone and have mental health challenges
- you share parenting or custody arrangements
- you live with a partner who has dementia (needs full-time care)
- you live by yourself and have a carer or carers who support you
Wherever possible, you should choose a household in your locality to form your support bubble, but it can be outside the 5 kilometre limit.
What happens if I break the rules?
In supporting the COVID-19 public health guidelines, An Garda Síochána has adopted a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent. This has seen Garda members engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.
The Government is considering introducing fines for breaching certain Covid-19 restrictions. Namely travelling outside of your 5km, not wearing a mask and holding a house party.
What is the guidance on hotels, guesthouse and B&Bs?
Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but only to support provision of essential services
What is the guidance around weddings?
- Guests (ceremony and reception) – 25 (not including bride, groom and essential staff)
- Travel – Guests can travel to attend wedding
- Hotel Accommodation for guests – permitted for bride, groom and 25 guests only
- Hair/Make-up services – not permitted (in any setting)
- Wedding dress shops – closed to public
- Baker/Cake – permitted
- Photographer – permitted
- Live music/dancing – not permitted (reception fully seated)
- Novelty supplies/acts – not permitted
What if I need essential repair and maintenance on my house?
The supply and delivery of maintenance and repair services to businesses and places of residence (including electrical, gas, plumbing, glazing and roofing services) will continue.
What construction will remain open?
(a) construction or development work and the provision of support services relating to construction and development work;
(b) the repair, maintenance and construction of road, rail and utility infrastructure;
(c) the supply and delivery of maintenance and repair services to businesses and places of residence (including electrical, gas, plumbing, glazing and roofing services).
What is individual training?
Individual training is exercise or training that occurs with a person or persons from the same household.
Is an eviction moratorium in place?
It is already illegal to evict a tenant because that person cannot pay their rent as a result of the coronavirus. A broader eviction moratorium will be introduced while Level 5 is in place which will temporarily prevent eviction for any reason.
What will happen at Christmas?
It is too early to say. It won’t be the same Christmas that we have enjoyed but the Government are acting now in the hope that there be respite over the Christmas period. However, this all depends on everyone following the spirit of these new rules and working together. Under current plans, Ireland will be placed on Level Three precautions in December. Please find information here.
What are essential services?
Please find full information here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c9158-essential-services/
Will my NCT appointment be cancelled?
Existing NCT appointments are classified as an essential service.
Will hairdressers remain open?
What is essential retail?
Please find detailed information here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/60ecc-essential-retail-outlets-for-level-4/
My business must now close, what supports are available for me?
- The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme is being amended to ensure where possible employees retain their link with their employer rather than become unemployed. This revised scheme will run to end January 2021. Please find full information here: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/unemployment_and_redundancy/employment_support_scheme.html
- The COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) was introduced as part of Budget 2021. It is aimed at businesses impacted by Covid-19 restrictions. Please find full information here: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/budget-information/2021/crss-overview-and-examples.pdf
- For Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) or Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme or other employer tax queries you can contact the Revenue Commissioners at Revenues National Employer Helpline 01 7383638.
- For sector specific supports or for further information please email my office at email@example.com or visit the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation support page here: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/
What are the reinstated PUP payments?
The new payment structure for the PUP is as follows, with the rate of €350 restored to those who were earning in excess of €400 per week:
|Prior Weekly Earnings (Gross)||PUP Payment|
|€200 – €299.99||€250|
|€300 – €399.99||€300|
How will non-Covid related care and hospital services be affected?
Human health and social work activities are classified as essential services. This includes:
- hospital services;
- therapy services 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);
– In line with current NPHET advice in respect of Level 5, disability day services will continue to remain open and are deemed essential
- services relating to public health, including services relating to –
- laboratory services;
- drug treatment and addiction services;
- hospice services;
- pharmacy services;
- primary care and general and specialist medical practice activities;
- dental services;
- blood donation and related services;
- tissue or organ donation and related services;
- residential care services (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse services, services for elderly persons and persons with disabilities) and children’s residential services;
- homecare, home help and other health services in the community;
- social work and social care services, (including disability services, mental health services, child protection and welfare services, domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services) and homeless services including homeless outreach services;
- paramedical, ambulance and pre-hospital care services;
- services provided by minor injury units;
- maternity services;
- health and social work services;
- food safety and environmental services;
- regulated childcare services and the care of children for persons providing essential services.
What does therapy services provided by a member of a designated profession within the meaning of section 3 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 apply to?
(a) clinical biochemist;
(c) medical scientist;
(d) occupational therapist;
(j) social care worker;
(k) social worker;
(l) speech and language therapist.