COVID-19: Regulations to enforce 'stay at home' guidance. Updated 15 April 2020
COVID-19: Regulations to enforce ‘stay at home’ guidance. Updated 15 April 2020
On 8 April 2020, the Government published legislation1 giving legal effect to the restrictions on movements introduced by its guidance of 27 and 28 March 2020.2 This legislation was necessary in order to give An Garda Síochana (the Gardaí) the power to enforce the restrictions introduced by the guidance.
The Affected Areas Order designates the entire State as an affected area for the purposes of the Temporary Restrictions Regulations which contain the detail of the restrictions. The Temporary Restrictions Regulations were originally effective from 8 to 12 April 2020 but this period was subsequently extended to 5 May 2020 to align with the extension of the effective period for the guidance until after the May bank holiday weekend3.
Restrictions on movement and events
The Temporary Restrictions Regulations state that people should not leave their residences 'without reasonable excuse'. A non-exhaustive list of reasonable excuses are set out which includes:
providing 'essential services'
going to 'essential retail outlets'
attending medical appointments
assisting vulnerable persons
exercising within 2km of your residence
The Temporary Restrictions Regulations also restrict the holding of events except in limited circumstances (e.g. funerals).
Essential retail outlets and essential services
The list of essential retail outlets at Schedule 1 of the Temporary Restrictions Regulations includes those selling food or beverages, pharmacies, fuel service stations, outlets selling essential items for animals, hardware outlets and laundries. Certain retail businesses (including opticians, office suppliers and electrical providers) are permitted to operate on an emergency basis only.
The essential services set out in Schedule 2 of the Temporary Restrictions Regulations comprise a long list under the following headings:
agriculture, horticulture, forestry, fishing, animal welfare and related services
supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment
electricity, gas, water, sewage and waste management
construction and development
wholesale and retail trade
transport, storage and communications
accommodation and food services
information and communications
financial and legal activities
professional, scientific and technical activities
rental and leasing activities
administrative and support activities
public administration, emergency services and defence
human health and social work activities
community and voluntary services
diplomatic missions and consular affairs
Breach of these restrictions is an offence punishable by a €2,500 fine, imprisonment up to six months or both.
Advice for Employers
The regulations are aimed at dissuading individuals from making unnecessary journeys in breach of the Government guidance. However, employers should still be mindful of the Government's broader guidance and the benefit of conducting the following analysis:
Is your business an 'essential retail outlet' or 'essential service'?
Which employees are essential to carrying out your business?
If essential employees cannot work from home, follow public health guidance. This includes physical distancing and good hygiene practices 4. Employees should also carry a form of official identification when travelling for work and, ideally, confirmation of their requirement to attend the workplace. The HSE has published a template letter for healthcare workers which could be adapted for other essential businesses and services5.
1The Health Act 1947 (Affected Areas) Order 2020 (the Affected Areas Order) and the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A- Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 (the Temporary Restrictions Regulations), both available at https://www.gov.ie/en/news/e9d120-minister-for-health-simon-harris-signs-regulations-to-give-an-garda-/