From top: Copper Face Jack’s last Friday; Professor Ruairi Brugha, Head of the Department of Public Health, Royal College of Surgeons
Prof Ruairi Brugha, of the Royal College of Surgeons, in the The Irish Times, writes::
‘…as a society, we have yet to have a debate in relation to the contending rights of those who feel they have the right to infect others through unvaccinated socialising, arguing along with some venue owners for right of entry to pubs and nightclubs for the unvaccinated, and the rights of those who wish to stay Covid-free and to be able to access health services when they need them….
Understandably, many hoped that 92 per cent vaccination coverage in adults would make us safe. However, Covid-19 vaccines only promised protection against serious disease, and not for everyone; and now that protection is waning….
…if we know that full vaccination, masks and social distancing – taken as a package – reduce the risk, what can we do to ensure everyone in high-risk settings complies? We must legislate for these measures to be mandatory.
We must enable staff and other customers to put pressure on customers who do not comply. We must enforce sanctions on venues that do not demand to see a Covid certificate and do not enforce compliance with preventive measures, enforcement that if necessary could involve ejecting customers. Yes, that will require consultation with gardaí and could require more fundamental legislative changes.
Those who sell alcohol and their advocates must take responsibility for preventing the excessive intake of alcohol on their premises, which is the single biggest factor leading to the breakdown of mask-wearing and social distancing.
There have been 30 or more revisions of the Government’s reopening guidelines for pubs in 16 months, and still no inclusion of guidance for pubs to prevent excessive alcohol consumption or eject those who are drunk.
New guidelines for nightclubs also ignore the elephant in the room – drunken customers who refuse to comply with staff requests to use preventive measures.
….Last winter, 18-35-year-olds contracted Covid-19 in pubs, and at work and home parties, and transmitted the infection to older relatives, many of whom died….
…as we enter another winter, some of those who grab the opportunity to stand in crowded queues in pubs and nightclubs will bring the virus home to younger siblings, many of whom are unvaccinated, who will seed schools with infections.
Between now and Christmas, and beyond, class and school closures will become more common, with huge impacts on parents. Too many of us have been there before. Do we have to go there again?