Ireland

Top doctor explains why outdoors are safe but what made Dublin crowds a risk

Professor Luke O’Neill has reiterated that outdoor socialising is safe but warned that in order to stop the virus from spreading, people need to spread out more and avoid dense crowds

The renowned immunologist was speaking on Newstalk and addressed the recent controversy following the scenes in Dublin city centre and Dr Holohan’s remarks that he was “absolutely shocked” at what he saw.

Gardai have confirmed that a number of people were dispersed from the area and that four people were arrested for public order offences.

A statement released by Dublin City Council said there was a significant amount of waste left behind overnight and added: “Gatherings of this size and nature are contrary to current public health regulations.”

However, Professor O’Neill reiterated that outdoor socialising is much safer than indoors – but it isn’t perfect.

“That problem in Dublin, if they spread out more it would have been fine. The density of the people is the issue there.

“You can understand people wanting to get out. In many ways, we saw this coming… and next weekend will be the same, watch, with the Bank Holiday. If people just spread out a bit, and aren’t in such dense crowds, it’s safe outdoors,” he said.

Professor O’Neill added: “I wouldn’t blame the young people – they want to get out and get back to things. But it’s a shame it wasn’t anticipated better.”

Following the incident, Dublin City Council has confirmed that they will be “taking some actions that will improve the situation for the coming weekend” in Dublin’s city centre.

While Professor O’Neill’s remarks do provide some optimism for those looking to enjoy outdoor dining and drinking on June 7, he did want about the dangers of the Indian variant, especially in areas that have a high density of people.

“The trouble is if the Indian variant was in that crowd, it’s much more transmissible. Maybe it will emerge with a new variant there is outdoor spread. The analogy is if you can smell someone’s perfume or smell someone smoking… then you could be getting exposed to the virus. But time is the other key variable… if they were in that massive crowd for an hour or two, then that would be a worry.

“There are so many variables, really. We have to wait and see. I’m hoping there won’t be any evidence now that was a superspreading event,” he said.

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