Outdoor dining will be safe this summer – but only if there are clear guidelines in place for Irish pubs and restaurants, according to Professor Luke O’Neill.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the Trinity professor said researchers in the US have examined the safest way to open outdoors while the virus is circulating.
“They are giving guidelines now on what the best outdoor structure is,” he said. “Some pubs have these igloos and bubbles outside and of course they were pretty hopeless because you would be inside that.
“You only go into your bubble with your family in the restaurant and the reason you want to go to the restaurant is to meet other people probably – so that kind of defeated the purpose.”
New guidance from the California Department of Public Health suggests that outdoor tents and structures that are walled on three or more sides should be classified as ‘indoor’ due to the lack of air flow.
It also notes that, where a structure has two walls, they should not be adjacent to each other.
Structures with two non-adjacent walls, circular structures that are 50% open and tents or canopies with no walls are all classified as ‘outdoor.’
He said outdoor dinging is “pretty safe” if restaurants follow the guidelines.
“Two sides are great outdoors,” he said. “A kind of a lean-to type thing with two sides open, that is the recommendation.
“If you have three sides in the structure make sure you have good little vents in them. Little openings to allow the breeze in – as ever it is all about ventilation.
“But these are good guidelines now on how to open a venue outdoors and keep it safe.”
Professor O’Neill also said it is “very likely” the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will give the AstraZeneca vaccine the green light again later today.
Ireland is one of around 12 countries that has suspended the use of the jab following reports a small number of patients suffered blood clots after being vaccinated.
The EMA has already said it believes the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risk – noting that the number of patients that experienced blood clots is no higher than would be expected among the general population.
The EMA safety committee (PRAC) is due to give its opinion after an emergency meeting today.
“I can’t wait for this statement from the EMA,” said Professor O’Neill.
“All over Europe, we are all on the edge of our seats and it is looking very likely they’ll give I the green light – cautiously optimistic is the great phrase.
“Lots of organisations have come out and said keep using the vaccine. Covax is the latest for example. They are giving hundreds of thousands of doses in the developing world. Everybody is saying the benefit for outweighs the risk.
“They might say there is a risk of this but it is tiny. It is so small that it doesn’t justify not using the vaccine – that is one possibility, I guess.”
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