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Gaa-ga Tony Holohan says large crowds on Dublin's South William Street like those on 'All-Ireland day'

Dr Tony Holohan said the crowds were squeezed into a confined area.

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Revellers in South William Street, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Revellers in South William Street, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Revellers in South William Street, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

The scenes of large crowds gathering over the weekend were like those outside Croke Park on All-Ireland day, Ireland’s chief medical officer has said.

Dr Tony Holohan said the crowds were squeezed into a confined area in Dublin city centre, which he said was a concern.

He rejected allegations he was making a moral judgment, saying he was commenting from a public health point of view.

Speaking at the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) briefing, Dr Holohan said: “It really was something to behold.

“We could have easily anticipated that there would be crowds because of the good weather, the opportunity is understandable.

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Revellers in South William Street, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Revellers in South William Street, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Revellers in South William Street, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

“But the scale of it – I drove through the junction looking up South William Street and it looked like Jones’ Road on a day of the All-Ireland.

“That’s what it looked like. It’s not surprising to see some level of non-compliance – but the scale of that.

“I think if the council had set about organising an outdoor event, they couldn’t have squeezed more people into that confined arena, and that was the concern.”

Dr Holohan also said that the majority of people know what is meant by an outdoor summer.

“We emphasise activities that are, for the most part, outdoor rather than indoors being more appropriate,” he added.

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Gardai move people on from South William Street (Niall Carson/PA)

Gardai move people on from South William Street (Niall Carson/PA)

Gardai move people on from South William Street (Niall Carson/PA)

“I think there has been examples around the country where a seal of approval has been given to things by individuals in terms of engagement, simply because they are taking place outdoors.

“It isn’t true to say that everything that happens outdoors is safe.

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“When you have a large group of people in close proximity to each other consuming alcohol it will facilitate transmission, even in outdoor settings.”

Dr Holohan said that the public is “with us” in broad terms.

Meanwhile, it also emerged that more than 740 cases of the virus were detected in Limerick between May 16 and 31.

Limerick has seen a spike in cases in recent weeks, prompting warnings from public health officials.

Dr Mai Mannix, director of public health at HSE Mid-West, said it was sparked by multiple community outbreaks connected to indoor events, including house parties, indoor gatherings, family and household visits, as well as multiple household events.

“We also had workplace outbreaks and similar outbreaks in school settings,” Dr Mannix added.

“The vast majority (of people) are in their 40s, 30s and downwards.”

She pointed to an incident involving 30 positive cases connected to a school in Limerick.

“We had a number of birthday parties among students and general social mixing where friends meet together,” she added.

“As with any school, you have buses where classes mix and people attending different sports, so all of this combined leads to a pressure cooker effect within the school.

“In this case there were contacts of 150 plus, and these 30 cases spread outwards.

“It leads to family household outbreaks and it crossed county boundaries and contacts linked to over a dozen workplaces, other schools and other sports settings in the region.

“The next one was a household outbreak which shows everyone in the household became positive and the children went into the education centre from there.

“That resulted in five cases, and then members of the household attended a social gathering which resulted in four more cases.”

She said it spread to a further three households and another workplace which resulted in a large outbreak. It then led to further schools and amounted to a total of 40 cases.

Dr Mannix said they are currently investigating more than 50 cases linked to 20 workplaces in the area.

“We have outbreaks in all types of settings, retailers, hair salons, beauticians, offices, factories,” she added.

“We have recorded a number of outbreaks in hair salons and beauticians in recent weeks. One of these had more than 50 contacts.”

She said that because of the variants, it is harder to contain outbreaks.

Dr Holohan also said that Nphet will look at mandatory mask-wearing over the summer.

“It is something we will keep under review on a continuing basis and we will be looking at that over the course of the summer,” he added.

There have been a total of 115 cases of the Indian (Delta) variant detected in Ireland.

Dr Holohan said the Indian variant is still a “black cloud” hanging over the country.

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