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The Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020



In response to the national and international health crisis involving the spread of COVID-19, the Irish Government has introduced the Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020 ("the Bill"). The legislation was passed by the Dáil on Thursday 19th and is expected to pass through the Seanad on Friday 20th of March 2020.

The Bill, which will amend the Health Act 1947, is comprised of two significant components as follows:

Social Welfare
The Bill provides for enhanced income supports and financial protection for people who are diagnosed with, or required to self-isolate due to, Covid-19. There is a provision for payment to people who lose their job as a result of the spread of COVID-19. The Bill also provides for changes to remove the waiting period for payment of Jobseekers Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance in these circumstances.

Public Health
The Bill also provides for powers to implement regulations aimed at preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of Covid-19 including the imposition of restrictions to travel to or from the State; restrictions on travel to other locations to which an affected order applies; prohibition of events and large gatherings as well as instructions to particular individuals to self-isolate and remain at home. The regulations would also allow for the detention of a person suspected of suffering from Covid-19 but who refuses to self-isolate.

These measures aim to regulate and control situations in circumstances where there is an "immediate, exceptional and manifest risk to human life and public health". 

The Bill is significant as it places additional powers and crucial emergency measures on a statutory footing, should the need to rely on these powers arise.

When will the Bill be Enacted into Law?
The Bill is intended to be passed through the Seanad, the second House of the Oireachtas, this afternoon.  
Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020

Written by Greta Siskauskaite, Clodagh Morrissey and Eimear Burke

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