C: Houses of the Oireachtas

New bill would let State detain suspected potential Covid spreaders

A new bill has been proposed which would give the State the right to detain people suspected of having the potential to spread Covid, and would allow Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to designate locations as “areas of infection” until June of 2022. These powers were given to the Government in March 2020, during the height of the initial fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. This new bill, which the Government reportedly tried to sidestep pre-legislative scrutiny of, would extend those powers up to June of 2022.

Part 2 of the Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2021 has been described in a briefing note from the Oireachtas Business Committee, sent around to TDs.

The stated goal of the bill, among other things, is “to provide for powers for certain medical officers of health to order, in certain circumstances, the detention of persons who are suspected to be potential sources of infection with Covid-19 and to provide for enforcement measures in that regard.”

The Bill also adds that it gives the Minister for Health “the power to designate areas as areas of infection of Covid-19 and to provide for related matters.”

More to follow as this story develops.

UPDATE:

While most of the government’s Covid powers were originally due to expire by February 9th 2022, the government has proposed to introduce a new piece of primary legislation to extend the sunset clauses of the Acts.

This would extend the Covid powers to March 2022, with the possibility of one three month extension to June 2022.

“The maintenance of the provisions of these Acts will enable us to continue to require the use of the Digital Covid Certificate for entry into indoor hospitality, nightclubs and live entertainment venues, the use of face-coverings and other measures that are currently in place in order to protect public health,” the briefing note said.

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