The Minister for Health has said we need to trust people to decide whether they have ‘compassionate grounds’ for visiting another household in the coming weeks.
From tonight, people right around the country will be banned from visiting each other’s home – with some exceptions for compassionate grounds and essential reasons like childcare.
Meanwhile, Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal will all move to Level Four restrictions at midnight.
The ‘essential’ reasons for a household visit put forward by the Government yesterday were: “Family reasons such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, and in particular those who live alone.”
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly a number of questions from listeners on what that might mean.
He said the “complexities of life” mean it is not possible for Government or doctors to come up with a list where ‘we can check off the acceptable reasons’ for visiting another home.
“People are sensible and we have to trust people,” he said. “So, what we are saying is, look, we have to apply our own judgement here.
“So, if it is a relative that needs your help, then of course go.
“Unambiguously, if it is someone who is completely isolated and you need to go in and help them, of course.
“If it is someone who is recovering from some healthcare issue or has some underlying condition, no question whatsoever, go and do that.”
He said the main message is that everyone needs to put a stop to all “discretionary visits.”
“Let’s face it, unfortunately, everyone is sick of this and understandably sick of it but unfortunately, the virus couldn’t care less,” he said.
“So, what we are saying is, all of those discretionary visits where we say, ‘ah sure it couldn’t do any harm could it? I am just going to invite my friends over on a Friday’ or, ‘ah look I haven’t seen anyone in a while so I am just going to go in for a cup of tea’ or, ‘I am just going to go in for a glass of wine on a Friday’ – what we are saying right now is please do not do those ones.”
He said the message to everyone in the country now is that, “at this point now, we need to do everything we can to avoid a lockdown.”
“Don’t visit other households, don’t invite people to your household, please work at home,” he said. “For employers, please find ways of letting your staff work at home.”
“We can bring in all the enforcement we want but the reality is suppressing this virus requires individual and collective responsibility right across the country
“That is what we had in the first wave. It is what we have had in Ireland right up to now and it is what we need now again.”
Super spreader events
Minister Donnelly said that, as of yesterday, Ireland's new cases were coming from:
- Close contact with a confirmed case - 50%
- Community transmission - 21%
- Healthcare settings - 3%
- Travel - Less than 1%
- Under investigation - 25%
He said there is strong anecdotal evidence that celebrations around sporting occasions have become super-spreader events.
“The vast majority of teams and clubs and parents and spectators have been doing exactly the right thing,” he said.
“Unfortunately this virus is highly contagious and when we have these so-called super spreader events, what can happen is that a very small number of people, if they are at a celebration - the kind of celebration that are strictly not supposed to be happening, but we have anecdotal evidence of them happening - they end up infecting an awful lot of people.
“Every time we move away from the public health advice, so, if there is a big win for your club or you just are so sick of this that you want to go and have a party with your friends, every time that happens, it creates this risk for these very large spreading events and unfortunately, the consequences are very serious.”
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