Tramore Covid spike can be traced to ‘several events’ at Christmas, says GP

Local publican John Sheedy strongly denies claims there were rule breaches at his bar

‘People came together, they had the craic and had fun, and that’s what’s happened here. That’s how Covid spreads.’ Photograph: iStock

‘People came together, they had the craic and had fun, and that’s what’s happened here. That’s how Covid spreads.’ Photograph: iStock

 

A spike in cases of Covid-19 in the Tramore area of Co Waterford can be traced back to “several events” that occurred indoors in the town over Christmas week, a local GP has said.

Dr Austin Byrne confirmed that about 200 cases of the virus had been detected among patients at his Tramore practice since St Stephen’s Day.

“People came together, they had the craic and had fun, and that’s what’s happened here. That’s how Covid spreads,” he said.

About one in 20 of Tramore’s population now has the virus, according to Dr Byrne’s estimates.

Local publican John Sheedy, who runs the Ritz bar, said that although a number of staff had contracted Covid-19, he “strictly” enforced public health guidelines.

Pubs nationwide were ordered to close at 3pm on Christmas Eve as virus figures continued to rise, but there were claims on social media that a large number had gathered in the the Ritz after hours, in breach of regulations. Mr Sheedy denied this.

“I have 17 CCTV cameras for the pub. I can show how well we obeyed the guidelines,” he said.

“I did have 20 staff back here so they could collect their wages at around 5 o’clock on Christmas Eve. They had worked extremely hard and we wouldn’t be opening back up, so I wanted to pay them up.”

He added: “We had two, three drinks, and finished up around 7 o’clock and I had locked up by 8.30.”

Mr Sheedy said gardaí called to the pub after 6pm on Christmas Eve, after he and staff had got “a bit noisy”. The 20 staff were seated across seven tables in the pub’s function room, he added.

Gardaí requested the pub owner supply a list of staff who were in attendance after hours before leaving, he said.

Gardaí said no investigation was taking place into rule breaches at the premises.

Four staff at the Ritz have tested positive for coronavirus, although none had symptoms, said Mr Sheedy. A number of his family members have also since tested positive, while he is self-isolating after a negative test result.

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