Government’s latest Covid-19 restrictions blasted by politicians and experts

Government measures to ban spectators from outdoor sporting events have been branded “bizarre” by Kingston Mills, professor of Experimental Immunology at Trinity College, and criticised by several politicians.

Prof Mills said he did not understand the reason for the restrictions, one of a number of new Covid-19 measures introduced on Tuesday, if people can still mix freely in pubs.

“[It is] completely bizarre. People are fed up and one of the things that would lift people’s spirits is a bit of live sport,” he said.

“One hundred people in a pub; I know they aren’t social distancing…and then you are not allowed to have 50 or 100 people at a football match?”

Prof Mills was in favour of some of the Government restrictions, including measures intended to protect the elderly, although he said they would be growing tired of such restrictions.

He also spoke on the opportunity to move to rapid testing – with 90-minute processing times – that would “completely change the whole dynamic” and allow for testing at airports and replace the current invasive procedures.

Meanwhile, former RTE journalist Charlie Bird hit out at the plan to reintroduce cocooning for people over 70 years of age, saying that “a date on a birth certificate should not be the easy target.”

Speaking on Today with Sarah McInerney on RTE Radio 1, Bird speculated that the government are “distracting” from other concerning issues across the country such as coronavirus cases in nursing homes, direct provision centres and meat processing plants.

Green Party leader and Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, admitted that he could see the contradiction in the advice that only six people can gather indoors, but that schools could have classes of 20-30 pupils.

“All of this is about risk assessment,” he said, adding that the Government viewed the reopening of schools as essential.

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly, has called for the Dail to be recalled immediately to cope with the rise in Covid-19 cases, and dubbed the new restrictions a “complete joke.”

He also said that the public would begin to lose their faith in NPHET (the National Public Health Emergency Team), which hasn’t got its “finger on the pulse.”

The controversial restrictions, announced on Tuesday, will remain in place until the 13th of September at the earliest, with TDs reconvening two days later following their six-week holidays.

The Government is also considering the reopening of pubs that do not serve food at the end of August and legislation will be introduced to enable gardaí to immediately close down any pub or facility that is abusing public health measures.

Jamie Mc Carron

Image Credit: Gareth Chaney/Collins