Taoiseach: Phase four re-opening may be delayed over fears around gatherings and house parties

Taoiseach: Phase four re-opening may be delayed over fears around gatherings and house parties
People wear facemasks as they arrive at Belfast City Airport after travel restrictions were lifted today.Picture: Brian Lawless

There are mounting fears that Phase Four of the country’s re-opening will be postponed amid concerns about the renewed spread of the Coronavirus.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said public health officials are “very concerned” about scenes last weekend of house parties and large crowds gathering outside pubs.

He said the government will take advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in relation to the commencement of phase four of the reopening for pubs and the wider economy.

“There is concern about indoor gatherings, and the degree to which those indoor gatherings may be causing an increase in the prevalence of the virus and leading to a spread,” he said.

“We are concerned about that, and we were concerned about the breaches last week. I applaud the gardai, they've taken cases, they've highlighted certain establishments that were a breach of the law. The gardaí will be out in the boat again this weekend to prevent a reoccurrence of what happened last weekend,” he said.

“This is a very dangerous virus that can damage people's health for quite a long time. It's not something to be taken lightly, as we've seen in various analysis from the medical world and indeed from people who had the virus.”

“So, it's extremely important that we try and prevent as many people as possible from getting this virus. And that is why we appeal to the public, really, to adhere to public health advice and behave responsibly in this, we all have a personal responsibility in relation to stopping the spread of this virus,” he said.

Speaking to young people the Taoiseach said: “I think young people have had a very difficult Summer. And they've had a very difficult number of months, with the Leaving Certificate and the fact that students couldn't get abroad this summer.

So, we have to take all that into account. And that said the same advice applies to young people just like everybody else. The indoor gatherings are a problem, over-crowded house parties are a problem.

“And no one is invincible. This is a dangerous virus. And I say to all people, young and old, be very very conscious of that and just with clever precautions, young people can still enjoy themselves without having to put themselves in harm's way. But it's the indoor gathering [that] is becoming an issue and it's worrying our public health doctors,” the Taoiseach said.

Mr Martin also said there's also concern about travel-related incidents of the spread of the virus. “Our approach to date has been very cautious in relation to travel. And as we said last week, we will be dealing with that on the 20th of July."

He said the government would take advice and have arranged measures before the announcement of any green list in relation to travel. "We will be taking a very cautious approach to it,” Mr Martin said.

He called on people this weekend to observe social distancing and to avoid gathering in large crowds and said Gardai will be carrying out checks on pubs to ensure compliance.

Mr Martin said the overarching priority for his government, moving to the end of the summer, is to get schools open and he said work is underway with all of the stakeholders in education. 

“We do need, for the sake of the children, their development, their life chances, to have schools reopening towards the end of August,” he said.


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