The Executive Director of the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Programme said the country may need to reopen pubs on a county by county basis.
Dr Michael Ryan, who has ties to Charlestown, said localised measures may have to be taken with pubs reopening, as the Government decides today whether or not to proceed with phase four of the easing of lockdown restrictions, which includes the reopening of pubs next week.
Speaking on Today with Sarah McInerney, he questioned whether it would be possible to manage the transmission of coronavirus in these conditions.
“Ireland is doing quite a bit of testing compared to the number of people who are positive and it may be that where there is localised community transmission, localised measures may have to be taken.”
“Certainly you can use a much more localised strategy, by county, by province, whatever it is in the Irish context but to do that you need very localised data and you need localised response capacity and the ability to turn around testing quickly, the ability to investigate clusters quickly and to reassure everybody else, ‘yes we’re taking the localised measures’. Maybe even (implement) localised measures that increase the level of physical distance, reduce crowding.”
The doctor stressed how crowded social gatherings and locations, such as pubs, can easily reignite the pandemic.
“Certainly restaurants have reopened in Ireland and it would be important to look at the success of that. Have people complied? Has that been managed in a way that has not increased risk? But crowded gatherings, parties, things where particularly younger people gather in large numbers where social and physical distance is reduced. We’ve seen that in other countries, it can spark epidemics.”
He said the Irish government has a very difficult decision to make on deciding whether or not to reopen pubs, especially after the country had such success in tackling the virus so far.
“Ireland will have to make a balanced decision between the risk of the epidemic spiking and the need to get back to work and social life and quite frankly there are no correct answers.”