Irish Prison Service Announcement on Recommencement of Physical Family Prison Visiting - June 23rd, 2020



Press Release

Announcement on Recommencement of Physical Family Prison Visiting

 

The Irish Prison Service has today outlined plans for a phased recommencement of physical family visits to prisons commencing on Monday 20th July 2020.

Following Public Health advice, and owing to the restriction on movements announced by the Government in an effort to curtail the spread of Covid-19,  physical family visits to prison were suspended on 27th March 2020 and replaced with a new system of video visits.

 

The Irish Prison Service fully appreciates how important contact with family is to prisoners and has been committed to the early return of physical family visits as soon as it was considered safe to do so.

In line with the Government Roadmap, and with infection control in mind, the Irish Prison Service has completed a comprehensive risk assessment on the return of physical prison visits.  The Service has identified the necessary measures, which are currently being progressed, to ensure that family members and friends can return to physical visits to our prisons in a safe manner.

 

In order to safely accommodate visitors and ensure compliance with social distancing requirements, in both our waiting areas and in the visiting areas, it has been necessary to limit the capacity and the frequency of visits at this time. Prior to Covid-19 over 4,500 visitors would have entered our prisons on a weekly basis. In order to ensure effective infection control and allow for appropriate social distancing, capacity in both waiting areas and visiting areas must be reduced.

 

Visits will recommence on a phased basis and movement through the phases will be subject to ongoing risk assessment and will take account latest public health advice, the range of Government restrictions in place and other factors including the prevailing transmission rate in the community.

 

Summary of Phases

 

Phase 1 – Return of Physical Family Visits (20 July 2020)

  • Physical visits will recommence with effect from Monday 20th July 2020.
  • 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 video visits if preferred.
  • Physical visits during this phase will be limited to one adult person (over 18 years of age).
  • Prisoners will also be able to avail of one video visit of not more than 15 minutes duration per fortnight.
  • In order to prevent the potential spread of infection all visits 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.

 

Phase 2 –  Monday 17th August 2020

 

  • All prisoners will be entitled to receive one physical family visit per fortnight, of not more than 15 minutes duration.
  • Physical visits during this phase will be limited to two people of which one visitor may be a child.
  • Prisoners may continue to avail of one video visit per fortnight of not more than 15 minutes
  • Prisoners may continue to opt to receive a video visit in lieu of a physical visit
  • Visitors will continue to be required to wear a face covering
  • In order to prevent the potential spread of infection all visits 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.

 

The operation and frequency of visits will be kept under ongoing review guided both by Public Health advice and a desire to support as much contact as possible between prisoner and their families. Detailed information for families in relation to the operation of visits will be published on the Irish Prison Service website www.irishprisons.ie in the coming weeks.