The State will be facing another severe Covid-19 lockdown if crowds of people continue to gather en masse and without social distancing as they did in Limerick city on Wednesday, Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea has said.
The former minister said he was appalled to witness large groups without face coverings queuing outside pubs and clubs in the city just 24 hours after the Taoiseach appealed to the public to limit their social contacts in an effort to reduce transmission of Covid-19.
Images and videos of the groups, which related to the annual Student Christmas Day festivities, were widely shared on social media.
“I witnessed it myself personally in the early part of the day,” local TD Mr O’Dea said. “It looked to be completely opposite to what the Government and Nphet were advising.
“The function of the original lockdown was to stop people congregating and behaving irresponsibly, and the Government policy now is to depend on people to do that voluntarily. Of course if they don’t do that voluntarily, it could inevitably lead to another lockdown, which nobody wants.”
Mr O’Dea said he was “really taken aback” at the queues outside pubs, which he likened to queues one might see for “the January sales”.
The Limerick TD said this type of behaviour is foolish and counterproductive to efforts to keep pubs and clubs and other businesses open.
“I thought I was inhabiting a different world to the world where the Government were telling people to take it easy and voluntarily obey the rules, or it’ll lead to consequences which nobody wants.”
Limerick has been hard hit by the latest Covid-19 surge, with University Hospital Limerick (UHL) currently treating 49 Covid patients, the most of any hospital in Munster and third-highest number in hospitals nationally.