Covid-19: Confusion reigns as people await list of essential workers

Covid-19: Confusion reigns as people await list of essential workers

There is a lot of confusion around what work is deemed essential or non-essential amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It comes as seven key groups of people were identified as exempt from the lockdown ordered by government which came into effect at midnight. Everyone else is ordered to remain at home.

It does not include construction workers, except those who are building something that is essential to this pandemic.

    The seven groups exempt from the lockdown are:

  • Healthcare and social care
  • Public and civil service
  • Utilities such as electricity, gas and water
  • Necessary goods, ie food and medicines
  • Financial services
  • Transport
  • Communications including journalists

A list of essential services workers was due to be published last night in line with the introduction of the new measures, but it has been delayed.

However, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has issued a list of essential retail outlets.

    The essential retail outlets are as follows:

  • 1. Retail and wholesale sale of food, beverages and newspapers in non-specialised and specialised stores
  • 2. Retail sale of household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences and businesses
  • 3. Pharmacies/Chemists and retailers providing pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical or dispensing services
  • 4. Retail sale of selling medical and orthopaedic goods in specialised stores
  • 5. Fuel stations and heating fuel providers
  • 6. Retail sale of essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including animal feed and medicines, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding
  • 7. Laundries and Drycleaners
  • 8. Banks, Post Offices and Credit Unions
  • 9. Retail sale of safety supply stores (work clothes, Personal Protective Equipment, for example)

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Robert Troy has said the lack of clarity is not good enough.

Deputy Troy said: “This has created great confusion with people unaware of whether their work is considered an essential service or not.

“Of course, many businesses will already know whether they are essential or not but there are others which find themselves in a completely grey area.

Are factories which manufacturer for pharmaceutical companies essential or the factories which make pallets which are needed by the big supermarkets?

"Key to this question is whether the company can provide the mandatory two meter distance between employees as advised by the HSE.

“Greater clarity is urgently needed and the list should have been ready so that businesses could have prepared themselves - they deserve better than this.

“At the same time, we have the Garda Commissioner urging all essential services workers to carry ID and informing people that Gardaí will be stopping people and asking them whether their travel is essential.

“If people don’t know whether or not they are an essential service worker how can they adhere to the rules?”

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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