'We must close pubs again' - says Irish professor just days after Taoiseach warned of delaying reopening date
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'We must close pubs again' - says Irish professor just days after Taoiseach warned of delaying reopening date

AN IRISH PROFESSOR has warned that pubs must close completely once again in order to do what's right for our healthcare workers.

Writing in theJournal.ie, Ruairí Brugha argued that the scenes from Dublin city centre over the weekend - showing people generally failing to adhere to social distancing guidelines en mass - means that a second wave of coronavirus is a likely prospect.

The Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences said that unless we take drastic action to change that, things will quickly begin "spiralling out of control".

"Images of crowds closely mixing and drinking outside centre city pubs in Dublin at the weekend is a slap in the face to the health workers who sacrificed so much to bring the coronavirus under control," Brugha wrote.

"The insides of pubs, when distancing breaks down and noise levels rise, fuelled by alcohol, are riskier still. Such images strike fear into the vulnerable that are most at risk from a second wave."

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He argued that the public health guidelines were far too vague and made it difficult for both businesses owners and customers to know what action is appropriate in every likely situation.

"How does one manage difficult customers who arrive drunk, well along the road on their pre-booked pub crawl, who argue their positions loudly, a few inches from a staff member’s face? Little attention has been given to monitoring, compliance and enforcement," he said.

Prof. Brugha stated that addressing these issues needed to happen quickly and that shutting the pubs again may indeed be the smartest choice.

"Decisive action is now needed if the progress made in controlling the first wave is not to be swept away.

"Poorly controlled pubs and house parties are both ideal venues for super-spreading of the virus, which could threaten jobs and undermine parents’ hopes of schools re-opening in September. The government needs to act now, to avoid the kinds of lockdowns that we are seeing in Spain, Australia and England.

"I would strongly urge the government to announce the closure of all pubs by tomorrow, 10 July and postpone reopening them until at least Tuesday, 4 August, contingent on adequate measures, monitoring and enforcement being put in place.

"Alternatively, there is a case for closing only Dublin pubs, for the time being, so as not to punish rural operators who contribute in a unique way to communities who lack urban social amenities."

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