Alan Kelly: Social distancing guidelines should apply equally across all society

There cannot be a "George Orwell situation where some workers are more equal than others", the Labour leader Alan Kelly has warned.
Alan Kelly: Social distancing guidelines should apply equally  across all society

There cannot be a "George Orwell situation where some workers are more equal than others", the Labour leader Alan Kelly has warned.

Mr Kelly said that public health advice being used by the Oireachtas and now the Courts Service which says that people should not spend more than two hours in the same room - even while physically distancing.

The advice saw the Oireachtas Covid committee have witnesses give evidence by video link on Tuesday and has seen Health Minister Simon Harris say that it is not possible for him to attend two briefings in the Dáil chamber today.

The advice states that anyone who is in the room for more than two hours with another person becomes a close contact of that person and must isolate for 14 days if they show symptoms of Covid-19.

Yesterday Deputy CMO Dr Ronan Glynn said that he was not aware of the advice and said there was no rule preventing businesses having people in the same room for more than two hours.

However, Mr Kelly said that if this advice was being used in one part of society, it had to be used across society.

"The consequences of this advice for society and businesses are huge. We cannot have a George Orwell situation where some are more equal than others.

"If it applies in the Oireachtas and it applies in the courts, it applies to the pharmacists, to the shops, to the meat factories and the gardaí."

Mr Kelly said that he accepted it was unlikely that the government would look to apply the two-hour rule across society, but said that it was "bonkers" that the advice had been given to the Oireachtas but not society.

Mr Kelly said that he wanted to see sector-specific advice for businesses on how they can operate safely.

The Labour leader said that there needed to be a "linear process" on how NPHET communicated its advice.

"If individuals are giving advice that has dominoed across society, it's going to end up in confusion."

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