IRELAND COULD increase alcohol prices to curb lockdown house parties, under proposals being put forward by one healthcare expert.
An expert in public health has called on the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin and his government to quickly introduce minimum pricing to stop the transmission of coronavirus through house parties.
With the majority of Ireland's pubs still closed in line with public health advice, some are taking to house parties and gatherings to socialise and drink with friends, however there are fears this could be causing the higher rate of new daily cases seen in recent weeks.
Dr Joe Barry, Professor of Public Health in Trinity College, says the Government should now up the price of alcohol to deter these parties from happening.
Dr Barry spoke to Echo Live earlier this week where he said that minimum pricing could be a solution to our already "unhealthy" relationship with alcohol.
"Before Covid came here, we already had a lot of harms associated with alcohol,” he told the outlet.
"Home drinking is very cheap and you can go to your local off licence, supermarket or corner shop to get alcohol,” he said, adding that the rise in calls to domestic violence helplines throughout lockdown could also be linked to the amount of alcohol drank at home.
Referring to the Public Health Alcohol Act which is due to come into force this year, but which does not have a date for introducing minimum pricing, Dr Barry said if the Taoiseach sets that date and introduces the measures quickly it would be "another positive achievement for him".
Dr Barry stressed that he was not in favour of total prohibition, as "the people of Ireland need to have a social life and the pub is a part of that", but minimum pricing of €2 per can should be introduced quickly to curb the rate of transmission through parties.
Last week, the head of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said a total ban on the sale of alcohol in shops should be considered to deter house parties from happening while the pubs remain closed.
And in South Africa, prohibition has already been introduced to ease the pressure on the health service which is dealing with a rise in coronavirus patients.