Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said Christmas parties can go ahead if Covid-19 rules are followed – but urged people not to go clubbing “three times a week”.
Minister Donnelly warned the winter period is going to be “really tough” and has called on the Irish public to reduce their social contacts.
He said “we have a very serious increase in cases particularly with younger people.”
He said: “We, just all of us just need to play our part.
“Just reduce social contacts.
“Well, if you enjoy going to nightclubs three times a week, don’t do anything else.
“Well, not three times a week anyway.
“You know the modelling from Professor Nolan, what it shows is that it’s a relatively small increase in socialisation really has fueled this so we just need to pull that back.
“I remember [Deputy Chief Medical Officer] Dr Glynn back last year, I thought he explained really well when we were dealing with a similar surge.
“He said ‘have a think about the number of people you’re going to meet this week in whatever setting it is and just look to bring it down.
“Just pull it back a bit.”
When asked if Christmas parties should be cancelled, Minister Donnelly said they can go ahead “if it’s done right.”
He said within Covid-19 guidelines, bookings of multiple tables are allowed with up to 10 people per table “but no mixing between the tables.”
He said if people wear masks where appropriate and follow hand hygiene then let that be a person’s social outlet and to perhaps go to a Christmas party rather than going to the pub.
He added: “I personally right now, I would say that’s okay.
“It’s well within the guidelines.”
NPHET is currently updating its modelling the Minister said, but the data recently showed that “we are about halfway between the optimistic and the pessimistic cases.”
Minister Donnelly said the country and public has fought hard to get society and the economy reopened and now we have to protect that reopening.
He said the resumption of nightlife and sporting events “were hard won gains” and “we need to protect all those and we can protect all of us.”
He said: “What we’re asking people to do, is what they’ve done right from the start, which is to do the right thing.
“And every time as a nation we’ve been in a situation like this where we’ve had a surge, people have done this, we’re already seeing it with people who are more vulnerable.
“Really there’s three things that need to happen.
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“Each of us as an individual, just needs to do that bit more which we’ve always done before.
“The hospitality sector, the majority are doing exactly the right thing and it’s not easy to do.
“But far too many are not doing the right thing so we really need everybody now to just step up.
“And thirdly, the Government does have a very serious responsibility right so hence the vaccines, the boosters, the flu vaccines, winter planning, antigen testing, ventilation and a lot more so the Government absolutely has a role to play.
“Beating this virus requires collective action.
“Ireland does stand out as one of the countries where people time and again have done the right thing to take care of each other and I’ve no doubt we will again.”
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