THE IRISH public is being urged to refrain from hugging love ones amid concerns they could end spreading a little more than the usual Christmas cheer this year.
As part of a concerted effort to help control the spread of Covid-19 over the festive period, people are being asked to hold back on the usual warm embraces.
Health Service Executive boss Paul Reid believes hugging poses an “extreme risk” when it comes to contracting the potentially deadly virus.
Speaking at the HSE’s operational briefing at St Steven’s Hospital, he called on the public to refrain from any shows of affection when meeting up with friends and family.
He said: “For this week as restaurants and gastro pubs reopen, it is a great opportunity for people to meet with friends and family, it gives people some relief after what has been a challenging few weeks and very challenging year.
“Equally, we are encouraging everybody as you do meet up, keep your heightened level of guard at all stages.
“It’s not just meeting in restaurants but it’s about people travelling to restaurants and leaving together when people’s guard can understandably drop maybe after a glass or two of wine.
“Or maybe as people leave each other and may not see each for Christmas, our natural inkling is to hug each other and wish each other happy Christmas, which we know in the current environment is an extreme risk.”
Reid’s advice comes after the strict Level Five restrictions in place across Ireland for the past six weeks were eased ahead of the busy festive season.
Shops have reopened while pubs serving food have also began trading again.