Wicklow’s Minister for Health says decision to keep pubs closed is about ‘protecting the country’
The Minister for Health and Wicklow TD, Stephen Donnelly has this morning said the decision not to move to Phase Four of Covid-19 lockdown was mainly down to the ability to reopen schools next month and to protect the economy.
Minister Donnelly explained the information they were provided by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) was “unambiguous on the fact that we are very finely balanced at the moment.”
The decision not to move to Phase Four was described as “extremely disappointing,” but Minister Donnelly explained “the Government’s focus is on keeping the public safe, suppressing the virus and making sure we can open the schools and protecting the economy.
“What the Government did yesterday was follow the public health advice.
“Reopening pubs or increasing large gatherings – or other measures which in other countries we have seen increase the rate of the virus – could have very, very serious consequences not just for Wicklow but for the entire country,” Minister Donnelly stated.
The advice provide to the Government was based on information and the interpretation of data gathered from our global colleagues and also from our own figures of cases, he explained.
“To put it into context the virus is spreading internationally, 14 of the 15 countries initially on the travel green list have seen serious increases in coronavirus numbers in just the past two weeks.
“The five day average here was down to less than 10 new cases a day, that’s now more than 50 new cases a day.
“Two weeks ago we had 120 new cases, last week we had 284 which is two and a half times more,” Minister Donnelly said.
The unfortunate conclusion for many people, was all the information pointed to the continuing closure of pubs, a decision the Minister said was not taken lightly.
“The international evidence is that when pubs are reopened that in spite of everyone’s best efforts it does lead to an increase in cases. In the future the regional relaxation of restrictions may be something we will look at.
“Even with all these supports in place I understand the pubs frustration and anger but the focus is not on whether or not we reopen pubs but the focus is and has to be on protecting the country and suppressing the virus,” the Minister concluded.