April 28, 2020
Government must use lockdown to put structures in place for life after easing of restrictions – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said that the government should be using the time during the lockdown to put structures and a plan in place for how things will work after the easing of restrictions.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“While we are still some time away from being able to ease restrictions, as they have done in Germany and New Zealand, the government must use this lockdown time prudently to put in place a plan and structures for how things will work after the easing of restrictions.

“On the healthcare side we have to move from reacting and testing just for disease surveillance towards actively testing in the community so we can identify the total spread, stop that spread, control transmission, and isolate cases of the disease.

“In order to do this, we need to test as many people as possible to uncover all positive cases. This means we must have capacity to test on a large scale in the community, and also have the capacity to identify and contact trace every person who has interacted with a positive case.

“The government cannot lift restrictions in good faith without this being achieved.

“But planning is also needed during these lockdown days for how things will work beyond healthcare. Structures of care for older people and vulnerable groups who will continue to “cocoon” – such as always on call healthcare, food delivery, and medication delivery – need to be organised and put in place.

“Sectors of the economy that will be allowed to re-open need to be outlined and discussion, guidance, and help with the business community is needed in that regard.

“The Minister and the government need to speak with business representatives about possible staggered working hours, so public transport isn’t overcrowded and so people have limited interactions in the workplace.

“The government must also ensure that facilities for 14-day isolation are in place for anyone entering the State.

“Inevitably people may have to wear masks when out in public, and if this is the health advice then the government must secure and source washable and reusable cotton masks for the general public.

“Furthermore, plans need to be put in place if restrictions are eased around schools and manufacturing to help them with hand hygiene, physical distancing, and other safety measures.

“The government should also engage with the government in the north about having aligned systems so we can fight this on an all-Ireland basis.

“It is essential that this planning happens during this current lockdown to ensure that when we are ready to ease restrictions that we are not left totally unprepared and vulnerable.

“We hear a lot of talk about “the new normal”, but this new normal is never explained to people. The government need to explain to the people what things will look like if restrictions are eased, how things will function, and what is expected of all of us to ensure that we can keep the virus at bay while also being able to live a little more freely.”

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