COVID-19 in Ireland – Emergency Powers to Government

Sweeping Powers to Deal With People Not adhering to Orders of Government

News Team - 20th March 2020

The Government of Ireland last night approved legislation to facilitate the the national response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The legislation provides for a number of measures including sweeping powers to deal with persons not adhereing to the orders of government for control of the spread of the virus. It also includes:

  • Enhanced income supports for people who are diagnosed with, or required to self-isolate due to, Covid-19, as announced by the Government on 9 March.
  • changes to remove the waiting period for payment of jobseekers benefit and jobseekers allowance or person affected.

Addressing the matter of costs to the Exchequer the Government pointed that the financial measures are necessary to maintain the public health objective of ensuring people who need to self-isolate do so.

The extra powers contained in the bill, are to be actioned if extreme situations were to arise, e.g. gatherings/events and travel. They can be called upon where there would be “an immediate, exceptional and manifest risk to human life and public health from the spread of COVID-19” according tot he text of the bill.

Source of infection of Covid-19 in Ireland

The Act will also grant further powers to detain or isolate persons are deemed necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, where a medical officer believes that a person is a source of infection.

A spokesman for the government is quoted as saying “These are provisions which the Government hopes it won’t have to use, given the powers already in place under the Health Act 1947, but legislation is being introduced to give Government powers in exceptional circumstances in the unlikely event that the need arises”.

It should be noted that the measures in the bill relate to exceptional circumstances facing the country due to COVID-19 only.

Bill Published

The (Health Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2020) were published on Tuesday. The bill passed through the Dáil yesterday, Thursday, and the Seanad is expected to ratify the Bill today.

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