One in 10 Irish people report hosting visitors or visiting another household for social reasons on "any given day" 1 week ago

One in 10 Irish people report hosting visitors or visiting another household for social reasons on "any given day"

The figures come as the Government has announced when non-essential retail could return.

One in 10 people have reported hosting visitors or visiting another household for social reasons "on any given day", according to the results of an ongoing study.

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While the latest findings of the Social Activity Measure (SAM) study - a behavioural study that records the public response to the risk of Covid-19 infection over time - will be published later this week, Liz Canavan of the Department of the Taoiseach described some of the changes to the public's behaviour as "concerning".

Speaking at a briefing on Wednesday, Canavan said that one in five people have at least one close contact interaction on any given day, with workplaces and household visits accounting for most of these.

Though many household visits involve essential work and caring, social visits also account for some close contact interactions.

Canavan said: "What is more concerning is that the minority having social visits in households are taking fewer precautions than they were in early February.

"One in 10 people report hosting visitors or visiting another household for social reasons on any given day. Most of these visits take place indoors, with poor ventilation and no masks worn.

"While a majority reported maintaining social distancing during household visits in early February, less than a quarter did in late March."

According to Canavan, these risks have resulted in a doubling in the proportion of the population who are having close contact encounters during social visits, rising from 3.1% to 6.7%.

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Each of these visits typically involves two to three people from another household.

Canavan added: "Many months back we were saying 'every contact counts'.

"If anything, this is even more the case with the variant which is now dominant in Ireland. Limiting our social contacts is a key defence in stopping the virus taking hold again, as it has done in a number of European countries."

On the more positive side, Canavan also highlighted that the public's compliance with public health advice is still very high as SAM results show that almost half of people continue to meet no one from outside of their household.

Canavan also said that if the public can "hold firm for a little bit longer" and if the health situation allows, a phased return of non-essential retail may be considered from 4 May.

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It would commence with click and collect and outdoor retail, such as garden centres.