"The advice is clear" - Dr Holohan urges against future protests 1 month ago

"The advice is clear" - Dr Holohan urges against future protests

"Now is not the time."

Chief Medical Officer has said the public health advice has not changed in relation to mass gatherings, and that while he understands people's motivations for protesting, now is not the time for large-scale events.

It comes after thousands attended an anti-racism protest in Dublin city centre yesterday, walking from O'Connell Street to the American Embassy in Ballsbridge. The march was reflective of a number that took place outside America yesterday, in cities such as Berlin, Toronto, Manchester, London and Cardiff.

The march was organised by Irish rapper JyellowL online, and while attempts were made to enforce social distancing, the large numbers that turned out made that difficult to do so. The event is now under investigation by the Gardaí.

When asked about the protest at the daily Covid-19 briefing at the Department of Health this evening, Dr Tony Holohan said that the public health advice is clear; "Well, I think that the matter is now under investigation by the Gardaí, and I'm sure that they will investigate it appropriately.

"In general terms, we're still clear that the advice now is not for mass gatherings to take place, whether indoors or outdoors. Any mass gatherings, we think now, would at this point in the phased easing of measures, be simply too early."

While people's intentions may be in the right place, Dr Holohan said, the advice is clear when it comes to mass gatherings and urged people not to organise or attend such events; "I would be advising anybody who's contemplating organising a mass gathering, for whatever reason, that now is not the time.

"And for people who are contemplating attending such events, and we understand people's motivation and the emotions that might have been involved for people in relation to some of the events that took place over the weekend, I don't want to not recognise that. But our public health advice has not changed."

Dr Holohan was also asked if the protest yesterday posed a "risk to life"; "In general terms, the reason why we have advice in place to avoid mass gatherings is because we think that can increase the risk of transmission of this virus, and this is a virus for whom a significant percentage of people it represents a risk to life, yes.

"It represents a risk to severe illness and to hospitalisation, yes. And so, in broad terms, we do not want to see mass gatherings events happening now, because of the risk it represents to the transmission of the virus and the consequences that goes with that."