‘Stick to the guidelines’ – People warned not to gather in crowds as sunny weekend approaches
‘We’re asking you to keep the public health advice in mind, whatever your plans’
People queueing for coffee in the Phoenix Park last week. Photograph: Collins
Ahead of the June bank holiday weekend and expected warm and sunny weather, the Government has urged the public to avoid spending prolonged periods at crowded amenities .
At the Government’s morning Covid-19 briefing, assistant secretary general at the Department of Taoiseach Liz Canavan also said the 5km travel limit applies to beaches and other amenities.
“It’s vital as we move into the bank holiday weekend that we continue the good work. With the fine weather, now more than ever, we want to go back to our traditional bank holiday activities.
“But we need to remember that we’re still in the very early days of reopening. We’re asking you to keep the public health advice in mind, whatever your plans. We still need to be cautious and we need to prioritise our health and the health of our loved ones. We need to protect our communities from the spread Covid-19.”
She added: “As we approach the long weekend we know that everyone will want to get outside, keep active and enjoy the beautiful weather.
“But as I said it’s important that we remember we must stick to the public health guidelines, observe the two metre social distancing and keep within in our five kilometre limit. And that includes visits to beaches, lakes and other such amenities.”
It comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was pictured meeting friends in the park last weekend.
A video of Mr Varadkar was posted by a member of the public on social media socialising with his partner Matthew Barrett and two friends.. The group of four were enjoying the warm weather and a picnic. His spokesman said Mr Varadkar was fully complying with the guidelines on coronavirus.
However, Ms Canavan had previously urged people not to have picnics in parks or at beaches that were being reopened in the first wave of relaxations.
On Thursday, she added: “What we’re saying to people is to try to avoid spending too long in crowded places where social distancing is likely to become an issue.
“The reason we’ve been saying that is that particularly on the way in to lockdown, we had certain facilities and amenities that had to be closed off completely because there was just too many people there. So really what we’re saying is if it is a really popular amenity and it is going to get crowded, no matter what you’re doing there, try to be mindful of that. If it is crowded and popular, you shouldn’t spend too much time there.”
Ms Canavan also reminded Leaving Certificate students that the online portal to register for predicted grades closes tonight.
“The Leaving Certificate 2020 calculated grades student portal will close at 10pm tonight. All Leaving Certificate students wishing to be evaluated through the calculation grades need to complete the registration forms on this portal before that time. And we’re advising you not to leave registration to the last minute, and to register as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan has called on the Government to take “a calculated risk” and to start easing some of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Mr O’Callaghan told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that he wasn’t criticising the advice being given by the chief medical officer Tony Holohan. It was Dr Holohan’s job to advise the Government, but the Government must take other factors into account when making decisions.
“No matter what we do, there will be risks,” he said, pointing out that Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte had said that calculated risks have to be made, “we have to take a calculated risk. We have to take other factors into account”.
On Wednesday it was announced that 17 more people have died from Covid-19 in Ireland bringing the total number of deaths to 1,631 while 73 new cases brought the total number of confirmed cases to 24,803.
The State’s chief medical officer Tony Holohan has rejected pressure from some Government Ministers to accelerate the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions. Mr Holohan told a Cabinet meeting there will be no immediate change to his advice on the current two-metre rule for physical distancing.
Despite calls from some Ministers to reduce the recommended distance to one metre, Mr Holohan said it could lead to an increased risk of infection.
Under the current roadmap, people will be permitted to extend their orbit of travel to 20km from June 8th when the second phase of the plan to reopen Ireland is scheduled to kick in.