Large numbers of Cork students were pictured gathering this morning outside a number of bars in the vicinity of UCC in Christmas jumpers.
It is understood they were gathering to celebrate an unofficial Christmas Day event. A local councillor also reported large groups in the College Road and Lough areas this morning.
Currently, according to guidelines for the pub sector, organised indoor events and mass gatherings are permitted where all patrons are immune - either fully vaccinated or recovered within the previous six months - from Covid-19. A maximum of 15 people including no more than 10 adults may be seated at a table.
The images circulating online of the queues outside the licensed premises raised some concerns from locals.
Councillor Mick Finn said: “I came across large groups of students in the Lough and College Road areas on the way to work and received calls throughout the morning from residents in Ballyphehane and Pouladuff concerned about large crowds gathering, including queues outside pubs.
Mr Finn continued: “Gardaí on the ground said this had started to become an issue as early as 8am and the fear locally is that day-long events like this could end up in someone sustaining serious injuries or worse; it’s part of a general toleration of behaviour that is impacting on communities in the vicinity of the college that has yet to be really tackled at a high level.”
A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said: “Members of An Garda Síochána are not ‘compliance officers’’ in respect of the Health Act 1947 (Sections 31AB and 31AD) (COVID-19) (Operation of Certain Indoor Premises) Regulations 2021.
“An Garda Síochána will continue to support and assist ‘compliance officers’ if or when requested.
“The wearing of face coverings in certain retail premises, public transport and small public service vehicles are provided for by public health regulations. An Garda Síochána will continue to support and assist ‘relevant persons’ and ‘responsible persons’ where required in respect of these regulations.
“The wearing of face coverings in other indoor and outdoor spaces and social distancing are public health guidelines and are not penal provisions.
“An Garda Síochána, has been consistent from the start of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and will continue to adopt a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent. An Garda Síochána’s response has been fair and proportionate. In respect of regulations which are declared to be Penal Regulations under the Health Act 1947 as amended, An Garda Síochána adopts the approach of the four Es which sees Gardaí engage, explain, encourage, and as a last resort, enforce.
“An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to comply with Public Health Guidelines and Regulations in order to continue to save lives.”
Both UCC and UCCSU were contacted for comment.