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Plea for public to observe public health guidelines

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LONDON, United Kingdom

Public health experts, gardaí and political figures have appealed to people to continue to observe public health guidelines.

It follows gatherings of large crowds in areas of Dublin, Cork and Galway at the weekend.

Crowds around South William Street in Dublin were dispersed by gardaí.

Yesterday evening, crowds that gathered close to the Spanish Arch and along the Long Walk in Galway were also dispersed.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that local lockdowns remain an option for Government, should there be a spike in Covid-19 infections.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said he was “absolutely shocked” at the scenes in Dublin at the weekend, which said were “like a major open air party”.

A specialist in infectious diseases at the Royal College of Surgeons has said information about where outbreaks are happening would help to target control measures.

Professor Sam McConkey said it would be useful to know where the 400 new cases a day are coming from – whether it is from indoor gatherings or workplaces.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said the scenes witnessed in parts of Dublin city centre at the weekend is not good for controlling the spread of Covid-19.

However, he said, he was reassured by seeing people socialising sensibly outdoors in small groups along the seafront.

Prof McConkey said he favoured a cautious and phased reopening linked to vaccination, with the hope that the over 20s will be vaccinated within eight weeks, adding that he would not like to see large groups of people at football matches or indoors events before this age cohort is vaccinated.

Earlier, the mayors of Dublin, Cork and Galway all expressed concerns about the crowds and urged people to take personal responsibility when they are out and about.

Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu said “we can’t tell people not to gather” because they have been told this will be an outdoor summer.

Speaking on same programme, she said many people do not have gardens and while Dublin City Council has done of lot of preparation, there is still a need for more seating, toilets, bins and an increase in gardai on the streets.

Galway City Mayor Mike Cubbard said the council there has tried to cater for an outdoor summer by adding temporary toilets and extra rubbish collections.

He said the reality is that people will gather and efforts must be made towards controlling numbers and planning events that can be safe.

Lord Mayor of Cork Joe Kavanagh said the virus has no sympathy for those gathering in large numbers and if people continue to do this, it could provide a breeding ground for the potential of spread of Covid-19 and its variants.

He said he is “really worried” with the bank holiday weekend coming up and “a long summer ahead of us”.

Mr Kavanagh said it would be extremely worrying if local lockdowns were imposed, which could see some businesses close permanently.

As part of the further easing of restrictions, hotels, B&Bs, self-catering and hostels can reopen from Wednesday, however, services including leisure facilities, indoor restaurant and bar services are restricted to residents only.

Next week sees the resumption of outdoor dining in pubs and restaurants.

Cinemas, theatres, outdoor amusement parks and funfairs can reopen along with gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres.

Meanwhile, over a million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in May, taking the total to 2.7 million.

Half of the adult population has had at least one dose.

Yesterday, the Department of Health was notified of 374 new cases of Covid-19.

Health Service Executive CEO Paul Reid has there is a “high risk” of another wave of Covid-19 infections.

He said that while hospitalisation numbers were low at present, the situation had to be constantly monitored and that people needed to remain vigilant to the risk posed by the virus.

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