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Corona be careful Pubs and indoor dining reopening at risk if people don't follow the rules, Taoiseach warns

Local lockdowns 'are an option'

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Gardaí move people on from South William Street, Dublin, on Sunday, May 30, 2021. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gardaí move people on from South William Street, Dublin, on Sunday, May 30, 2021. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gardaí move people on from South William Street, Dublin, on Sunday, May 30, 2021. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has warned that measures to ease the lockdown planned for July - including pub openings and indoor dining - "may have to be reviewed" if there is evidence of people not following Covid-19 guidelines.

The Taoiseach's spokesman was responding as gardaí were forced to disperse crowds in Dublin city centre for a second day and after chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said he was "shocked" by weekend scenes of crowds.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also warned about potential future local lockdowns yesterday.

The Taoiseach said the reopening of hotels on June 2 and outdoor hospitality on June 7 are not in jeopardy, but told the Herald: "Everything planned for July is always open to be reconsidered.

"There must be continued progress in the battle against Covid and there will be a review to determine if there is to be any change of plans."

Mr Martin's spokesman said easing of restrictions due this week and next - which include hotel and guesthouses reopening and the start of outside service at restaurants and bars - will go ahead.

However, he stressed that planned restriction lifting for July and August was always going to be subject to a review.

Only July 5, bars and restaurants are set to be reopened for outdoor service, while air travel is expected to begin again from July 19. From August 5, the number of people allowed to attend indoor and outdoor events will increase.

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Gardaí move people on from South William Street, Dublin, on May 30, 2021. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gardaí move people on from South William Street, Dublin, on May 30, 2021. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gardaí move people on from South William Street, Dublin, on May 30, 2021. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Taoiseach's spokesman said the weekend events had to be seen in the context of fine weather coinciding with news of major changes to restrictions which had been endured for five months.

"We will not make major changes based on these happenings. But we have to maintain progress in the battle against the virus," he said.

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The Taoiseach's comments came after the Tánaiste warned local lockdowns remain an option amid scenes of large crowds across the country over the weekend.

Mr Varadkar also said there is a risk of a fourth wave due to more people socialising, but the Government aims to have 2.5 million people fully vaccinated by the end of July.

He was speaking yesterday as a number of people were arrested in relation to large gatherings in cities, while there was disgust at scenes of litter and empty drinking vessels abandoned on city streets and other popular spots.

Asked if local lockdowns could be introduced to deal with outbreaks, Mr Varadkar told reporters they are a policy option, even though they had mixed results previously.

"It is an option if we need to use it, but hopefully we won't have to," he said.

He added that since the third wave ended, there has been a concern about a fourth.

"The course we're taking in the view of Nphet and the CMO is a low to moderate risk, but low to moderate risk doesn't mean no risk.

"And of course there is a risk of repeating what happened in December."

Tomás Ryan, Trinity College assistant professor of immunology and member of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group (Isag) which advocates for 'zero Covid', said Isag was "very worried" about the faster spread of the variant first identified in India.

"A lot of those young people who are out there [in crowds] are going to be expected to work in indoor hospitality settings very soon, with a one-metre distancing which is not sufficient," he said.

"The Isag position is one of caution. We want a situation whereby we can get through vaccination without a fourth wave and without having to bring back restrictions in autumn or sooner.

"As a neuroscientist, I am increasingly concerned about the effects of long Covid.

"It is important to remember that long Covid doesn't care about your age. It affects all people, and I don't want this to turn into a summer of long Covid on top of the risk of exposure to death."

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