Not the day to consider reopening pubs, insists Glynn

Pubs are to stay shut for at least another two weeks to allow health officials to track the impact of schools reopening has on the spread of Covid-19.
Not the day to consider reopening pubs, insists Glynn

Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer pictured this evening at a Covid-19 update press conference at the Department of Health. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Pubs are to stay shut for at least another two weeks to allow health officials to track the impact of schools reopening has on the spread of Covid-19.

The decision has been described as the “death knell” for small pubs.

But with new outbreaks of the virus spreading across the country, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has also said lockdown restrictions in Kildare must remain.

They have again urged people to avoid any unnecessary gatherings and to “ration” the number of people they are in contact with.

Dr Ronan Glynn, the acting chief medical officer, urged restraint in what was at times an impassioned appeal during Thursday night’s Covid-19 briefing.

“We simply can't have everything with the pandemic,” he said.

“We can have an education system open. We can protect the most vulnerable. We can have a health system get back up and running, and address all the backlogs that we have. But all the other stuff?

“We want to have sport, we want people to be able to go to pubs, we want people to be able to socialise — but right now is not the moment.”

Vintners Federation of Ireland communications and public affairs manager Brian Foley said: “This is the death knell for pubs. If landlords had a definite date to reopen by, it might not be so bad in most cases.

“But it is the continued uncertainty that is causing the most harm. And right now, there is not much faith in the industry the current situation will change.”

Dr Glynn also responded to health minister Stephen Donnelly’s warning the country is at a “tipping point” and a second “lockdown” is on the horizon.

“I hope it is not a tipping point," said Dr Glynn. “I hope we are seeing an improvement over the coming days and weeks.”

But he insisted: “Today is not the day to consider reopening pubs.

“It would be entirely the wrong message to millions of people imploring us to get this disease back under control.”

He also highlighted growing infection rates in Carlow, Limerick, and Tipperary.

He said that while larger clusters are under control, there has been a rise in the number of clusters nationally.

These include outbreaks in sports clubs, retail outlets, small businesses, households, and communities.

Overnight a further 93 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 28,453.

He pointed out that Dublin has had 564 cases over the past 14 days, and Kildare has had 329 cases.

He said Carlow has an incident rate of 69 per 100,000, and that Limerick — which has had 82 cases in the last 14 days — has an incidence rate of 42 per 100,000.

He also highlighted that Tipperary, which has had 133 cases in the past 14 days, has an incidence rate of 83 per 100,000.

"What I would say in relation to those counties, particularly Tipperary, is that the source of the vast majority of those cases is fully understood [by] public health colleagues on the ground,” Dr Glynn said.

He made the comment when asked if growing rates in counties other than Kildare could lead to more local lockdowns.

“I don't want to get into a narrative about who should be worried about restrictions or not worried about restrictions,” he said.

He said that while cases are not “escalating rapidly”, they are nonetheless “continuing to escalate”.

“If we continue along that road over a prolonged period of time, we will see more hospitalisation, we will see more people in critical care,” he said.

But he added: “We are not contemplating a national lockdown.

“Ultimately, the power to prevent that is in each of our hands as individuals over the coming weeks.”

Professor Philip Nolan, chairman of the NPHET Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, warned: “We have a long winter to get through and we need to keep this virus at bay through the winter.

“We can't have some kind of national party in two or three weeks' time where we suddenly all scale up our social contacts because of a change in circumstances.”

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