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Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn at the Department of Health this evening. Sasko Lazarov

NPHET says Christmas and Halloween not 'cancelled' as people advised to plan festivities in Covid-19 environment

Dr Ronan Glynn said messages about how to safely socialise at these times will likely be issued.

CHRISTMAS AND HALLOWEEN have not been cancelled due to the pandemic public health measures, Dr Ronan Glynn has assured, but the public is advised to plan festivities “within a Covid-19 environment”. 

The acting Chief Medical Officer this evening said NPHET will likely give some “specific messages” about things like safe socialising and trick or treating closer to the time in the coming months. 

“Let there be no possibility of a message going out of this press conference this evening that NPHET has said anything about cancelling Halloween, or Christmas or anything like that,” Glynn said speaking to reporters this evening. 

I think the vast majority of people…  know what they need to do to keep themselves safe, and I’m sure as it comes closer to the time we can give some specific messages to help people socialise and do things safely around that time.

“It comes back to the key message that the single greatest predictor of how safe or otherwise it will be to participate in activities, either at Halloween or Christmas or any other time, is the underlying circulating levels of the virus.

“At the moment they’re increasing, and we need to we need to get them to decrease.”

Glynn’s statements were backed up by professor Pete Lunn, founder and head of the ESRI’s Behavioural Research Unit, who said that “now is the time to plan for the winter months ahead”.

“Take control of your own environment by ensuring your household is up to date on, and actioning, the public health advice,” Lunn said.

“Getting outdoors and having social interactions outdoors reduces the risk more than the public think it does, and therefore we think this is a very important message to get out at this time – meeting outdoors makes a real difference and a bigger difference, it appears, than the general public has absorbed.

“Make it a habit to get outside, to socialise and exercise safely and automatically physically distance from others. Adapt to Covid-responsible behaviours in and out of the home,” he said.

Lunn also urged people to plan for upcoming events such as Halloween, Christmas and New Years’ Eve “within a Covid-19 environment”.

“As we come into the colder months and we face into the winter, planning how we’re going to get through as individuals becomes increasingly important,” Lunn said this evening.

He added that people should plan ahead to “have good clothing to get through the winter spending more time outdoors” than usual. 

“There’s also evidence to suggest that if we have to restrict our social circles, focusing on our highest quality relationships rather than quantity of relationships is good for wellbeing,” he said.

“So there are things that we can plan and do to get us through the winter, which will help us to adapt and that the evidence suggests will make the winter less cumbersome to get through while sticking by the guidance.”

Dublin and Limerick 

Dr Ronan Glynn said this evening that he is “particularly concerned” about the increase in Covid-19 cases in Dublin and Limerick. 

“The next week is vital and people really need to cut down their social contacts,” he said. 

“They need to take all the precautions over the next week in those counties.

They need to assume now again, unfortunately, that Covid is circulating in the community and act appropriately.

Glynn added: “I can’t say it strongly enough that people in Dublin in particular need to adhere to physical distancing. They need to cut down their social contacts.”

He said people still have the power to change the trajectory but that every person needs to have a higher level of risk perception than they do at the moment.

“If you’re meeting people, meet them outside,” he said.

“We want you to socialise, we want you to meet up with people, the last thing we want coming into the winter is for people to be isolated, but we really need people to do that more safely.” 

With reporting by Michelle Hennessy and Press Association

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