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File image of Dr Tony Holohan at a press briefing last month. Leah Farrell
Dublin City

CMO says South William St crowds at weekend looked like 'Jones Road on a day of an All-Ireland'

Dr Tony Holohan said his commentary over crowds was “not a moral judgement”.

THE CHIEF MEDICAL Officer has said health officials “could have easily anticipated” crowds outdoors during periods of good weather, but scenes in parts of Dublin city centre at the weekend were “something to behold”.

Dr Tony Holohan had expressed his shock on Twitter over crowds on South Great George’s Street, Exchequer Street and South William Street on Saturday night.

There are a large number of pubs and restaurants in this area. Gardaí said four people were arrested on Saturday evening in an operation to clear the streets.

Speaking at a NPHET press briefing today, Dr Holohan said it was “understandable” that people would be “tempted out” in crowds during the good weather at the weekend. 

“I drove through the junction looking up South William Street and it looked like Jones’ road on a day of an All-Ireland,” he said, referring to a road leading into Croke Park.

It’s not at all that we’re surprised that we see some level of non-compliance, but the scale of that… I think if the council had set about organising an outdoor event they couldn’t have squeezed more people into that confined arena, and that was the concern.

He said these crowded streets would be the “perfect opportunity, if outdoor transmission is to take place, that’s the kind of environment in which it will happen”.

Dr Holohan said the sentiment in his tweet was “not a moral judgement”. 

“We have to make judgements in relation to the science and the evidence about what controls and dictates and shapes and facilitates transmission of the disease, and that’s what we’re responding to,” he added.

He said with risks from the Delta variant and “the level of vaccination as it stands in the population at the moment, the appropriate thing for us to do is to highlight that concern”.

Health officials have identified 115 cases of the Delta variant (previously referred to as the variant first identified in India), a rise from 97 since last Friday in Ireland.

According to deputy CMO Dr Ronan Glynn, the counties with the highest incidence rates at the moment are Limerick with 733 cases in the last 14 days, Donegal (320 cases in the same period), Offaly (134 cases) and Dublin (2,091 cases).

Dr Mai Mannix, the director of Public Health for HSE Mid-West, praised people in Limerick for going forward for testing as “that helps us break the chains of transmission and control the outbreak”. 

Professor Philip Nolan, chair of NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said incidence rates among people aged 19-24 have seen a notable increase over the past fortnight compared to other age groups.  

With reporting by Lauren Boland at the Department of Health.

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