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Pubs in parts of Dublin with coronavirus outbreaks should not reopen, says expert

A further 196 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland yesterday, with 107 of those in Dublin.

Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE specialist has said he believes pubs in Dublin where there are large outbreaks of Covid-19 should remain closed. 

Professor Sam McConkey, from the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, said that available data would make it easier to differentiate by area and implement localised approaches based on case numbers. 

His warning comes following a spike of Covid-19 cases in the capital, with a further 196 cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Ireland yesterday – 107 of those in Dublin.

Earlier this week, Cabinet agreed that ‘wet’ pubs could reopen their doors on 21 September, however, the reopening of pubs in Dublin may be contingent on the spread of the virus at that point with ministers concerned the city is on “knife-edge” in terms of the number of positive cases being confirmed.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, McConkey was equally sceptical on the reopenings. 

He said: “Dublin is a huge city, one and a half million people and in some areas there are lots [of cases], in some areas there’s little, so I would differentiate by areas. 

Say in some areas where there are lower rates of Covid-19 definitely yes and in other areas, where there are big outbreaks just happening in the last week or two, people should be staying home in their houses.

“Already we have data at local electoral area for the whole of the epidemic since February, that tells us how many cases in each 1,000, 1,250 people and it tells you for each area of Ireland. For half the rural areas there’s almost no cases or very few but for the big urban areas there are lots of cases.

“We already have that data for the total six months but not for the last two weeks so  I think we could get that locally. Then local people could act with their street, their parish, their community to behave differently.”

He added that it would be “really sad” if we see the death of the Irish pub, given it’s an “international export that we’re proud of and really enjoy”.

So, it’s a matter of keeping those businesses alive and my view is that drinking outside, socially distanced, sitting down two metres from each table with people that you live with or people from one other household is a relatively safe thing to do, as long as it’s done in moderation and the servers are wearing a face mask.

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The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is expected to recommend to government further restrictions on visits to households in Dublin to tackle the recent spike in cases following a meeting yesterday. 

Public officials have recommended to Government that only six people, from two other households, instead of three other households will be allowed. 

The Government has said that recommendations will not be announced until next week, with Ministers warning that any restrictions in Dublin must be justified if they are more drastic than other European capitals. It’s up to the Government to decide to agree to NPHET’s recommendations, or to make additional recommendations.

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If accepted by the Government, the measures would be introduced for three weeks in Dublin.

Speaking earlier this week, NPHET warned that Covid-19 is spreading at a much faster rate in Dublin than elsewhere in the country. If people don’t reduce their contacts it could mean the number of cases in the capital would double every 14 days, it said.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said “if it all possible” family gatherings with multiple people from different households, such as communions and christenings, should be stopped for the next few weeks.

About the author:

Adam Daly

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