Children can’t dine indoors in restaurants with their parents safely at current COVID-19 incidence rates, according to one health expert.
Professor Anthony Staines says he expects case numbers to go ‘sharply down’ by September, but the numbers remain very high at the moment.
He was speaking after 783 new cases of the virus were reported in Ireland yesterday - the highest number of new cases in a day since February.
Meanwhile, plans to reopen indoor dining for vaccinated or immune people are progressing - with unvaccinated children to be allowed in restaurants, cafés and bars once accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
However, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan yesterday said it is safer for parents not to bring their children into indoor dining.
Dr Holohan said parents bringing their children out for a meal should instead stick to outdoor settings.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Professor Staines - Professor of Health Systems at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences in DCU - was asked whether it would be safe for parents to bring their children to dine indoors.
He said: “If cases stay high, the answer, unfortunately, is no - not safely. That’s what drives everything else.
“If there were 10 cases of COVID in the country per day, [it would be] irrelevant, more or less. But there’s not - there were [over] 700 last night. The numbers are expected to rise."
He said while children seldom get seriously ill from COVID, children still do spread the virus at similar rates to adults.
Despite that, he’s hopeful the situation will improve significantly in the coming weeks, as health officials continue to vaccinate people 'as fast as they can'.
He said: “I would hope by September that the incidence of COVID would be going sharply down - that would be my expectation, and I hope I’m right. If not, we’re in serious trouble - but I think it will be going down.
“I think we will be vaccinating teenagers over the course of the autumn.”
He added that trials are ongoing to see whether it’s safe to vaccinate children aged under 12, and the results of the trial will help guide decisions on whether the vaccines should be rolled out to those younger age cohorts.