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return to work

Government announces new guidance for workplaces as Covid-19 regulations ease

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the new protocol will also help deal with other illnesses.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS published new guidance for workplaces following the relaxation of Covid-19 public health measures.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment this morning announced the Transitional Protocol, a guidance document, setting out best practice for keeping the workplace safe to help employers and their employees return to work safely.

Varadkar said that the Protocol has been revised following engagement with employer and employee representative groups.

On 21 January, the Government announced the relaxation of many public health measures, including the requirement on public health grounds, to work from home unless necessary to attend in person. The phased return to the physical workplace is now underway.

Key advice includes the wearing of face masks which now only applies to certain settings such as healthcare, transport, retail and public offices and by those serving food and drink.

The document advises that wearing a face mask is still good practice especially for those sharing work vehicles.

“This Transitional Protocol has been developed in consultation with business representative groups and unions. It’s a guidance document and is designed to help, not to complicate.

“The emphasis on personal protective measures, including getting vaccinated and boosted, still stands, and it is still crucial that anyone with symptoms isolates and takes a test – either an antigen or PCR depending on their circumstances,” Varadkar said.  

The Tánaiste said that the guidance around ventilation and air quality will help in reducing the instance other airbourne viruses along with Covid-19.

“I know employers are speaking to their staff about future working arrangements. We have an opportunity to make remote and hybrid working a permanent fixture of Irish working life.

“The principle should be that once the business is done and public services are not diminished in any way, it should be facilitated. When workers are in the workplace, this document gives guidance on how to keep them safe,” he added. 

The document advises that Covid-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) measures should still be part of any workplace risk assessment.

It adds that control measures set out in the Protocol should remain a focus for employers, business managers and employees, with many elements considers good practice. 

The Government announcement today said the protocol is a general guidance document applicable to all sectors.

It is not designed to prohibit the introduction of further specific measures in particular sectors or workplaces. Further specific measures can be introduced as long as they enhance the measures set out in the Protocol.

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