Announcement on Recommencement of Physical Visits to Wheatfield and Portlaoise Prisons
The Irish Prison Service is delighted to announce the recommencement of physical visits to prisons will take place on a phased prison by prison basis with visits resuming seven (7) days after prisoners have been fully vaccinated. Recommencement of physical visits to prisons is aligned to the schedule of the vaccination programme currently being rolled out across all prisons in our estate.
Physical visits will recommence in Wheatfield Prison on 14th July and in Portlaoise Prison on 16th July 2021.
The Irish Prison Service is implementing a new Framework for the Unwinding of Prison Restrictions which is informed by the recent Government Plan for reopening our society, and set out in Resilience and Recovery: The Path Ahead. The Irish Prison Service fully appreciates how important contact with family is to prisoners and is committed to the early return of physical visits.
The recommencement of visits will be subject to ongoing risk assessments and will take account of Public Health advice; the range of Government restrictions in place and other factors, including the prevailing transmission rate in the community.
All visitors will continue to be subject to the Covid-19 screening procedures which have been in place since March 2020. Visitors are requested not to attend a prison in the following circumstances:
- If you have any Covid-19 symptoms;
- If you have been in contact with a person who requires a Covid-19 test;
- If you have tested positive for Covid-19 and have yet to be cleared from isolating by your doctor;
- If you have been abroad in the preceding fortnight to the scheduled visit.
Return of Physical Visits
- Physical visits will recommence in Wheatfield Prison from Wednesday 14th July 2021.
- Physical visits will recommence in Portlaoise Prison from Friday 16th July 2021.
- All prisoners will be entitled to receive one physical family visit per fortnight, of not more than 15 minutes duration.
- Prisoners may opt for two 20 minutes video visits if preferred.
- Prisoners who avail of a physical visit, will be also be entitled to one video visit of not more than 20 minutes duration per fortnight.
- Physical visits will be limited to two visitor’s one adult and one child (under 18 years of age).
- No property or cash will be accepted during prison visits.
- In order to prevent the potential spread of infection all visitors will be behind Perspex screens and visitors will be required to wear a face covering at all times.
- No physical contact between prisoners and family members will be permitted.
- All visitors who are clean shaven will be issued with a prison issue surgical mask prior to entry to the prison.
- If any visitor is not clean shaven a higher specification of PPE is mandatory – an FFP2 mask must be worn and covered with a surgical mask, a visor must also be worn.
- If any visitor refuses to comply with the wearing of prison issue PPE they will not be allowed entry to the prison.
The operation and frequency of visits will be kept under ongoing review guided both by HSE, Public Health advice and a desire to support as much contact as possible between prisoners and their families. Detailed information for families in relation to the operation of visits and booking system is available on the Irish Prison Service website www.irishprisons.ie.
The Irish Prison Service is aiming to resume physical visits by the end of July for the following prisons, Loughan House, Arbour Hill, Shelton Abbey, Mountjoy, Dochas and Castlerea Prisons. This will be dependent on the rollout of the vaccination programme and the infection levels of Covid-19 with in the community.
Irish Prison Service