Mary Lou McDonald: Government needs to acknowledge social distancing advice is not being heeded
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has called for immediate closure of pubs, clubs and restaurants across the island.
She has said that social distancing measures are being ignored and that tough decisions are required to maximise COVID-19 containment efforts, particularly with St Patrick's Day looming.
Teachta McDonald said:
"We are in a national emergency and it is clear that social distancing measures are not being adhered to in many pubs, clubs and restaurants.
“The rate of community spread across the island is increasing and drastic measures are required if we are to contain the spread and protect our loved ones.
"Pubs and restaurants north and south must be directed to close immediately, particularly with St Patrick's Day looming.
“We have already seen some pubs close their doors in order to protect their staff and the public. We welcome those who have made that responsible decision.
"We also welcome this afternoon's decision of Temple Bar publicans to close all bars and nightclubs in the area with immediate effect.
"The Restaurants Association of Ireland has also acknowledged that social distancing measures are not working, while the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland has sought clarity from the government today.
"It is clear that there is a need for robust instructions for pubs and restaurants to close as a matter of urgency.
“Naturally this will create difficulties for workers and employers and we need state interventions to ensure that workers and businesses can access help and support.
“Social distancing means staying at home or away from crowds as much as possible. This message is getting through to some people, but it is being ignored by others and large groups of people in pubs were evident over the weekend so far.
“These are extraordinary times and they call for extraordinary measures. We are a resilient people and compassionate people and I have no doubt that the people will understand and appreciate the need for these additional measures.”