Holohan raises hopes of All-Ireland finals in Croke Park with spectators

Dr Tony Holohan said that if there was really good progress then outdoor events such as Electric Picnic could be considered
Holohan raises hopes of All-Ireland finals in Croke Park with spectators

Vivienne Clarke

Dr Tony Holohan has said he would really like to see spectators at the All-Ireland finals in Croke Park this summer.

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, the chief medical officer said the more people that get vaccinated against coronavirus, the more likely the return to events.

Dr Holohan said that if there was really good progress and no difficulty with Covid variants then outdoor events such as Electric Picnic could be considered.

He cautioned that people should not get ahead of themselves and should still be cautious and maintain public health measures. However, he urged people who had been vaccinated to get out and about.

It was important the public continue to adhere to public health measures and the situation would continue to be monitored, he said.

The ambition was to “get through May” and then to move on to the easing of further restrictions on June 7th if all the current measures proceeded safely.

Vaccine advice

The chief medical officer said he had written to the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) to seek updated advice on the use of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on people under the age of 50, with a response expected in the coming days. In the meantime the vaccine rollout would continue through May for at risk groups and those over 50.

“Then it is a question of what happens next. We might have increased flexibility on AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson,” he said.

Dr Holohan said he was not concluding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could not be used for younger age cohorts. He said there would be a vaccine for everyone, which vaccine would depend on the advice from Niac, which he expected in the next couple of days.

Vaccines were being considered for under 18s, but a recommendation would have to be given first, he added.

Antigen tests

Dr Holohan said he was not opposed to antigen tests or to retailers selling them, rather he was concerned about the interpretation of test results. There was a risk a negative result could falsely reassure people, creating the potential for superspreader events.

“We can’t have people behaving as if they don’t have the disease when they do,” he said.

Dr Holohan said it was not a question of trust in the public, it was the fact that the test did not give “a reliable enough” result.

On the issue of foreign travel, he said it was getting near the stage when it could be examined, but it would not happen until it was safe and appropriate to do so. That was in the “near to medium term”.

Mandatory hotel quarantine would continue for as long as it had value and he considered it an effective measure to halt transmission.

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