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Author: Katie Dowling, Solicitor

The Government has published the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020 in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

It is set to pass emergency legislation amending the current Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 and Health Act 1947. The new laws, which will provisionally be in place until May 9th, are aimed to attempt to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005;

The legislation will provide for enhanced income supports for people diagnosed with, or required to self-isolate due to, Covid-19. It will seek to waiver the waiting period requirement for payment under the Social Welfare Scheme.

Further to this, it will expand the criteria required to satisfy the entitlement to disability benefit to include those are deemed incapable of work due following a diagnosis of COVID-19 or those deemed to be probable source of infection.

Health Act 1947;

The new legislation will provide the Minister with the powers to impose Regulations, should they be required in extreme situations, for the purpose of preventing the spread of Covid-19, which may include;

  • Prohibiting gatherings
  • Travel restrictions
  • Requiring persons to stay at home
  • Designate areas as “areas of infection of Covid-19”

It will also provide powers of detention or isolation of a person, where a medical officer believes that a person is a source of infection, in order to prevent the spread of the virus. This will only apply in extreme circumstances, where a person cannot be effectively isolated.

This legislation seeks to defend the rights of Irish citizens to life and to bodily integrity. It is necessary for the Government to take safeguarding measures to prevent, minimise, limit or slow the risk of persons being infected with Covid-19.

This is an uncertain time and we ask that everyone stay safe.