From circuit breakers to Halloween, here are some of the key messages from this evening's briefing from the National Public Health Emergency Team on the Covid-19 situation in Ireland.
No normal Halloween
Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) says "it's not going to be a normal Halloween. It can't be. We can't have children and families moving from house to house in the way that normally happens at Halloween." #Covid19 #Halloween | https://t.co/yro2bXPnFk pic.twitter.com/yjD6NoS70Q— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 12, 2020
Asked what people could expect at Halloween this year, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said clearly it will not be a normal Halloween.
He said public health officials want to stop people gathering, and children and families should not move between houses trick-or-treating in the way that normally happens at Halloween.
Take personal responsibilty
"The Government isn't going to wash your hands for you. It's not going to put a face mask properly on you." Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) says it is up to individuals to take responsibility for their own actions to help suppress #Covid19 | https://t.co/vibbxsCHUj pic.twitter.com/MAhGB86qW3— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 12, 2020
Dr Holohan emphasised the importance of personal responsibility in suppressing Covid-19.
He said that the Government can provide support, and can set out the rules, but that it is up to individuals to follow them.
He said the Government isn't going to wash your hands for you or put your mask on properly for you, and people have to take responsibilty for themselves.
The CMO said there is now widespread community transmission across the country, and that people have to act as though they have the virus, and not assume that public health guidance applies to other people and not themselves.
"We have widespread community transmission in the country now," @CMOIreland says, adding "which is why we're appealing to everybody to listen, every single individual ... and not conclude that this is something that applies to somebody else". | https://t.co/yro2bXPnFk | #Covid19 pic.twitter.com/rTjBksP5b6— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 12, 2020
Wear a mask, not a visor
Asked if NPHET will consider recommending that people wear masks outdoors, Deputy CMO Dr @ronan_glynn says the emphasis at the moment is on getting people to wear their masks properly in the appropriate settings, adding that most people should wear masks, not visors. #Covid19 pic.twitter.com/vzIux2attC— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 12, 2020
Asked if NPHET would recommend that people wear face coverings outdoors, as has happened in other countries recently, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that public health officials would continue to monitor the evidence on masks outdoors and could make such a recommendation in the future.
However, he said that the focus at the moment is on getting people to wear masks properly.
He said too many people are still leaving their mouths or noses uncovered, or walking around with their face coverings hanging under their chins.
On visors, Dr Glynn said they are an acceptable alternative for a very small number of people who cannot wear face coverings, but that "the vast majority of people should be wearing masks".
Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) says Northern Ireland is seeing some of the highest rates of #Covid19 infection in Europe, if not the world. He says movements between any areas with high infection are concerning, regardless of borders. | https://t.co/yro2bXPnFk pic.twitter.com/6zn2WG13yv— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 12, 2020
Asked about the high rate of infection in Northern Ireland and potential implications for border counties, Dr Holohan said Northern Ireland is seeing some of the highest rates of infection in Europe, if not the world,
However, he said the virus does not respect borders, and it moves from person to person.
The concern is people moving between areas of high infection, regardless of borders, he said.
Work from home if possible
"Work from home ... there has been a creep of people who did work from home in earlier stages of this now creeping backing into the office" @CMOIreland says, adding "now is not the time for house parties, now is not the time for play dates" | #Covid19 | https://t.co/yro2bXPnFk pic.twitter.com/snBa6WErCk— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 12, 2020
Dr Holohan said he is increasingly concerned about the number of people who are returning to workplaces who were working from home at earlier stages of the pandemic.
He said people should work from home as much as possible.
He also expressed concern about the number of social gatherings, saying now is not the time for house parties, birthday parties or play dates.
"What we recommended as part of our considerations at NPHET was that Phase 5 of the Government's plan, which was carefully thought out over the summer, be activated. We didn't call it a circuit breaker and it's not a term you'll hear my using." @CMOIreland says | #Covid19 pic.twitter.com/dvPLzp3CgL— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 12, 2020
Dr Holohan says that NPHET did not recommend a 'circuit break' lockdown, and that that is not a term you would hear him using.
He said NPHET advocated a move to Level 5 of the Government's Living With Covid plan, but that the Government, taking wider considerations into account, opted for Level 3.
He says it would not have made sense for NPHET to then recommend a move to Level 5 again days later, when the measures the Government had just announced would not have had any impact in the figures.
However, despite the Government making clear it did not wish to "skip" levels in its graduated plan, Dr Holohan did not rule out recommending a move up more than one level in future.
The spirit of the rules
Asked if a couple could hold a wedding with 25 people in one room and 25 in another, opening a partition for speeches, @CMOIreland says "It isn't a set of rules to be gotten around. People need to comply not only with what it says but the spirit of what it's saying." #Covid19 pic.twitter.com/bNp4VSkoJ3— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 12, 2020
Dr Holohan was asked to respond to the idea that a couple could organise a wedding with 25 people in one room and 25 in another separated by a partition, which could be opened for the speeches.
The CMO said that people should not be looking for ways to get around the rules, and should comply with the spirit of the rules and not just the letter.