A senior Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) doctor has endorsed comments by chief medical officer Tony Holohan that the public should walk out of pubs or restaurants that are not asking for Covid-19 digital certificates.
Ina Kelly, president of the IMO, told RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland that hospitality businesses need to follow the protocols which insist that only those who are fully vaccinated can be served indoors.
“If we see places that aren’t safe, it is best not to go into those and we need to encourage businesses to follow the protocols as well as possible,” she said.
“All of this helps us to keep places open while we have a Covid risk in our communities.”
Her comments come in advance of the meeting on Tuesday between representatives of the hospitality industry and Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Officials in the Department of the Taoiseach will brief the hospitality sector on the dangers of the transmission of Covid-19. In advance of the meeting they warned the sector that non-compliance could have consequences for the continuing reopening of society.
Denis McCauley, the chair of the IMO’s GP committee, said the levels of non-compliance with the Covid certs in pubs and restaurants is in the order of one in three to one in two establishments.
He said Northern Ireland has much higher rates of Covid-19 because it allows unvaccinated people into pubs and restaurants. A further 1,028 new cases of the virus and 11 more deaths in the North were reported on Monday.
“I would hate to think that we could get to the same levels of Northern Ireland,” he said.
Dr McCauley said non-compliance in the hospitality sector is “completely unacceptable” given how hard the sector lobbied to be opened up.
"If you walk into a place and they don't ask you for your digital cert, leave. If you apply those simple rules when you are doing something it is much easier," he told Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show.
Dr McCauley also called on anyone planning an office or workplace Christmas party to ensure it was an “official” one in a venue that would check Covid certs.
“If you’re going to have an unofficial Christmas party, don’t. If you’re determined to have a party of some form, have it in a controlled environment where all the Covid measures are there,” he said.
Infectious diseases expert Sam McConkey has warned that antigen testing for children could give false reassurances.
Regular routine testing had a role to play, he told Newstalk Breakfast.
Antigen testing in schools could be of benefit if used correctly, he said, but testing would have to be done on day five and day 10 after possible infection. Testing on other dates could provide negative results which would provide false reassurance.
There was a need to go back to non-pharmacological methods to avoid spread of the virus, he urged, such as mask wearing, sanitisation, social distance.
The vaccine alone was not enough to control spread of the disease, he said.
When asked about booster vaccines, Prof McConkey said they were needed as immunity waned, but the question was when was the optimal time to boost.
It might be better to wait until new vaccines were developed, just as new flu vaccines were developed every year. It was not going to be feasible to have to vaccinate the entire population every three to six months when their vaccine waned.
Prof McConkey said that Niac was right to take its time on the issue of extending the booster campaign. There was an obvious advantage in giving it to the over-60s and the vulnerable, but he did not think that giving it to the over-12s at this stage would make things better.