Tightening of COVID-19 restrictions ‘should not be policed by coercion’

Tightening of COVID-19 restrictions 'should not be policed by coercion'

Garda enforcement powers should not be reintroduced as part of the partial reinstatement of COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said.

The civil liberties group reiterated the position it has held since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis that public health advice should be “consent and education-based” and not policed by coercion.

“We call on government to communicate with and educate people on the appropriate response to the surge in cases, rather than using coercion and force,” ICCL said in a statement yesterday.

Government ministers yesterday agreed to tighten COVID-19 restrictions following multiple outbreaks in recent weeks across workplaces, households, and in sports clubs.

Ministers said a number of measures are being put in place until 13 September 2020 and there will also be an enhanced level of enforcement to ensure that workplaces, venues and organisers of activities adhere to the guidelines.

In its statement, ICCL said: “The increase in new cases of COVID-19 over the past number of days is significant and we must all take the necessary steps to limit the spread of the virus.

“It is however unfortunate that the latest guidance will disproportionately affect elderly and immuno-compromised people without addressing the issue of congregated settings where the virus can spread.

“ICCL believes there should be more transparency around how public health advice is given and how government decisions are made. The last months have shown that government must prioritise at-risk people in care homes and nursing homes.

“It must also take steps to protect people living or working in crowded settings such as Direct Provision centres, factories and halting sites. ICCL believes resources would be better directed in this direction, not in policing ordinary people.”

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