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08 Dec 2021

Criticism as government propose to extend Covid-19 powers

Criticism as government propose to extend Covid-19 powers

Criticism as government propose to extend Covid-19 powers

A further extension to the Covid-19 emergency powers implemented by the government for a further three months will be sought in the Dáil today.

However, Sinn Féin (SF) has since revealed that it will be voting against the extension, which would see measures such mask wearing and the use of vaccine passports will remain law until February 2022.

The party is joined by People Before Profit in voicing its displeasure with the proposal, while the Social Democrats and Labour will decide on their position in the Dáil later today.

According to The Irish Examiner, the govt explained that it "must keep options open to deal with pandemic unknowns by retaining the ability to act quickly to impose regulations to stem the spread of the virus."

David Cullinane TD, Sinn Fein's health spokesperson, said his party will reject the extension on the basis it keeps all emergency powers on statute books, while only keeping a small number of restrictions in place.

"Time has long since passed that they needed to be kept; if the minister wants an element to remain, such as locator forms and masks, he should bring forward primary legislation that deals with those restrictions alone."

The Waterford politician added: "This allows the minister to set regulations without debate, a recent example being nightclubs where we had last-minute regulations and no discussion, no debate, and no scrutiny, yet we're all held to account even though we had no part in it."

"Elements of public health measures should be kept but that can be done by primary regulation rather than leaving all on books."

Last month, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that a return to tighter COVID-19 restrictions cannot be ruled out this winter.

He also implied that face masks may remain as part of "sector specific measures" past October 22, and not just for public transport, shops and hospitals.

Similar comments were made by Tánaiste and former General Practitioner Leo Varadkar, who said there is always the possibility of restrictions being reintroduced, but the aim is to "get through winter without having to do that".

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