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Limit Christmas visits to protect loved ones, says public health expert

Dr Gabriel Scally has said that now is “not the time” to allow the virus to spread.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

GATHERINGS BETWEEN HOUSEHOLDS over the Christmas period should be minimised to avoid spreading Covid-19 to loved ones, a public health expert has advised.

Dr Gabriel Scally of the Royal Society of Medicine has urged the public to keep family and friends safe over Christmas by not holding social or large family gatherings.

His advice comes following the government’s decision to allow limited visits between households from 18 December as the country moves out of Level Five restrictions.

Speaking on Saturday with Katie Hannon on RTÉ Radio One, Dr Scally said that “this is the time to show your love for your friends and family by keeping them safe”.

“What I would hate to see happen is that because the government says you are permitted to do some of these things that it would become the norm and that some people might feel they have to,” Dr Scally said.

“I know very many people, myself included, who will not be going to see friends and relations this Christmas because it’s a dangerous thing to do for my health, for their health, and the community’s health,” he said.

The [end of the] virus is on the horizon. Within the next month or two, we’ll start to see large numbers of people being vaccinated, and why would anyone really want to risk going to social gatherings or large family gatherings at this time? This is not the time.”

Dr Scally said that Ireland has done “exceptionally well” at avoiding a “terribly bad” second wave, but warned that people must not lose focus on preventing the spread of Covid-19.

“If we have a very merry Christmas and meet lots of friends and relations, I fear that in January and February we may well be burying some of those friends and relations,” he said.

“That’s the cruel truth of this virus – it’s desperately dangerous and we mustn’t let it surge back again.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced a series of changes to restrictions last night as Ireland moves from level Five to a modified level Three, including to household visits.

From Friday, 18 December, the ban on household visits will lift to allow two households to visit a third.

Travel between countries will also be permitted from 18 December until 6 January.

After that period of two and a half weeks, measures in place prior to 18 December will once again apply, subject to review.

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From Tuesday, 1 December, businesses and institutions such as retailers, hairdressers, gyms, libraries, galleries, cinemas, tennis courts, golf courses, and religious services will be allowed to resume. Theatres are to remain closed.

Restaurants and pubs with an on-site kitchen may reopen from Friday, 4 December, and hotels will be able to open to indoor diners.

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