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Minister Murphy outlines arrangements to protect individuals and families in homeless services in relation to Covid-19

Yesterday, the National Public Health Emergency Team announced new measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. One of the priorities for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, local authorities and specialist agencies is to ensure the safety of the individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness and are currently accessing emergency accommodation. The health and safety of staff working in these areas is also of paramount importance.

Over the last number of weeks, my Department has been in constant contact with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) and local authorities nationwide to coordinate the response to Covid-19 among users of emergency accommodation and rough sleepers,

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy TD said.

Many people experiencing homelessness are in very vulnerable situations, and it is vitally important that the State takes all necessary measures to protect them. Today, I spoke with the four Dublin local authorities, each of the regional lead authorities and the chief executives of some of the largest homeless services providers. I am confident that the local authorities and NGOs are taking the necessary steps to deal with this challenge. But we must be vigilant and keep the situation under constant review.

In this regard:
• HSE guidance has issued to all local authorities and service providers.
• The DRHE, local authorities and NGO partners have introduced a range of precautions aimed at minimising the risk of infection among service users and staff.
• The DRHE, regional lead authorities and NGOs have identified contingency beds and suitable accommodation to provide capacity for persons to self-isolate, if necessary.
• Additional staff numbers have been allocated to front-line services, and back-up staff will be available as required.

We are in continuous contact with the HSE, state agencies and other Government departments and will work closely with the local authorities and our NGO partners to ensure that all necessary supports and measures are made available to address implemented in accordance with emerging developments and relevant HSE guidance,

Minister Murphy added. 

All required resources will be made available to protect individuals and families in emergency accommodation, and staff working in these areas. Local authorities and NGOs will keep the situation under constant review. I have advised local authorities and agencies not to hesitate in requesting any assistance or additional resources. We will be in daily contact with all frontline services. I also wish to thank the staff in the local authorities and NGOs for their vital work at this very challenging time.