Cork public health expert says off licences should be shut during pandemic;  Concerns over soaring alcohol sales 

Cork public health expert says off licences should be shut during pandemic;  Concerns over soaring alcohol sales 

A public health expert has questioned why off-licences have been kept open during the Covid-19 lockdown, as fears are raised about an increase in home drinking.

Joe Barry, who is a professor of public health at Trinity College Dublin, said that closing off-licences might be unpopular but several unpopular measures have already had to be taken by the Government during the current crisis.

‘’Alcohol is being sold in supermarkets and in petrol stations. I am not sure if we need the off licences too,” he said.

The Fermoy native said the last thing hospitals need is to face people who have suffered severe injuries while drunk.

Dr Barry said over-consumption of alcohol is a concern at a time when large numbers of intensive care spaces are expected to be needed.

Concerns about alcohol intake have also been raised by the clinical director of the Tabor Group, Mick Devine.

Tabor Group has shut its doors to new admissions during the crisis but is still taking calls from people who have concerns about their own drinking or that of a loved one.

He pointed to a survey released by digital marketing agency Wolfgang Digital which showed that more alcohol was sold during March than during the Christmas season.

He said: ''As a nation it appears, we are increasing the extent of our alcohol use during this crisis. 

"This is extremely concerning. Behind these statistics lies the human costs of the pandemic. 

"Not knowing how this pandemic will play out affects our economic, physical and mental well-being against a backdrop of a world that, for many, is increasingly anxious, unhappy and lonely.

''For now, we must be more concerned about the impact covid-19 is having on those with alcohol use disorder and their families. 

"Adhering to government directions about staying at home will pose challenges for those struggling to manage an alcohol use disorder. 

"Irritability, anxiety, boredom, isolation are challenges to us all as the days go by.''

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