Minister Feighan welcomes clarification that drug and alcohol support groups can continue to operate

Senator Frank Feighan.

Minister Frank Feighan

Sligo/Leitrim TD and Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan has today welcomed clarification that drug and alcohol support groups, such as AA, NA or Smart Recovery in Sligo, Leitrim, South Donegal and North Roscommon, are not subject to the recently introduced regulations relating to indoor events, which limit attendees to no more than six people.

Minister Feighan stated: "The public health advice relating to Covid-19 is kept under continuing review by the National Public Health Emergency Team, and it provides advice to Government in line with the current epidemiological position. I am aware of concerns that recently introduced regulations that restrict indoor events to no more than six attendees would impact on the operation of drug and alcohol supports groups. It has been clarified to me that drug and alcohol support group meetings are not impacted by these restrictions and can continue to operate, subject to adherence to public health guidance relating to physical distancing and other protective measures."

He pointed out that drug and alcohol support groups provide are a key lifeline for people struggling with addiction and support their recovery and rehabilitation.

"I welcome the clarification that these support groups can continue to operate. I would advise that the support groups proceed with a degree of extra caution, as individuals with addiction problems are more vulnerable to the risk of Covid-19, and put in place strict protective measures," he added.

The Minister highlighted the following general guidance on indoor events:

- Meetings should take place online where possible.
- Where face-to-face meetings are necessary, physical distancing of 2 metres must apply. Meetings should be kept as short as possible.
- Managed and organised arrival and departure processes must be in place. 
- Where possible, increase ventilation in the meeting facilities.
- The numbers attending should be kept to an absolute minimum. Capacity will depend on the venue and the ability to physically distance and ensure other protective measures are in place, the overall numbers at any one time within the meeting facility should not exceed 50 people.
- To ensure optimal physical distancing, multiple pods of a maximum of 6 people in each is preferable if sufficient space is available and if it is feasible, with no inter-mingling between pods. 

Minister Feighan concluded:"‘The situation regarding Covid-19 has been, and continues to be, an evolving situation. The measures in place and the public health advice have been adapted to the changing circumstances and this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. We all must continue to do everything possible to avoid the virus spreading."

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