BILL WATCH 32/2020
[27th May 2020]
Covid-19 Lock-down Order : Amended Again
On Friday 22nd May the Minister of Health and Child Care published yet another SI amending the Lock-down Order: it is the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 9), SI 115/2020, and it can be accessed on the Veritas website [link]. So too can a consolidated version of the Lock-down Order incorporating the amendments made by this latest SI [link].
Effect of the Amendments
The SI amends section 4 of the Lock-down Order to allow people to leave their homes for exercise, but only in pairs. Previously, and rather oddly, people were allowed to leave for exercise in groups of up to 50. While exercising, people will have to observe the social distancing rule ‒ i.e. keep at least one metre apart ‒ and wear face-masks.
The SI imposes new conditions and restrictions on people participating in or watching low-risk sports. Previously people were free to engage in low-risk sports ‒ the term was defined to cover specific sports such as archery, golf, fencing, motor sports, shooting cycling, archery, swimming, athletics, tennis, chess and draughts, etc. [are these last two really sports?] ‒ so long as they observed the precautions laid down in section 11G of the Lock-down Order.
The new rules imposed by the SI are much more restrictive:
The definition of “low-risk sport” is altered to cover non-contact sports where social distancing is possible and which are classified and specified by the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation. Whenever she specifies a sports code she will have to give notice of the specification in whatever way she thinks appropriate to whoever she thinks needs to know about it.
Note that until the Minister classifies sports codes for the purposes of the definition, no one is allowed to engage in any sport whatever.
Anyone who wants to engage in a sport that has been specified and classified as low-risk will have to apply in writing to the Ministry of Sport for permission to do so.
The Ministry will give permission if satisfied that:
before engaging in the sport, participants will be temperature-checked and will sanitise their hands
participants and spectators will observe the social distancing rule and spectators will, in addition, wear face-masks
participants will not share personal sports equipment, water bottles, etc.
face-masks, tissues, wipes, gloves and sanitisers will be available to participants
if there is a risk from physical contact with equipment, gloves will be used.
Venues where low-risk sports are played must not open before 8.30 a.m. and must be closed by 4.30 p.m., except with the permission of an enforcement officer.
At venues where low-risk sports are played:
no alcohol may be served
only take-away food may be served
not more than 50 spectators are allowed to attend, unless an enforcement officer permits a larger number.
If an enforcement officer requires it, participants and competitors must submit to screening and testing for Covid-19.
Points to note
Some points that sportspeople should remember:
No one can play, participate in or train for any sport, whether high, medium or low risk, until the Minister has classified and specified it.
Before anyone plays, participates in or trains for a low-risk sport which the Minister has classified and specified, they will have to get permission from the Ministry of Sport.
How practical these restrictions are, and whether anyone will observe them, remains to be seen.