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Holohan rules out summer sun holidays as 17 more deaths announced

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Chief medic Dr Tony Holohan

Chief medic Dr Tony Holohan

Colin Keegan

Chief medic Dr Tony Holohan

Health chiefs are ruling out giving the go-ahead to non-essential holiday travel abroad from July 1, dashing the hopes of those who were planning a summer getaway.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said yesterday he did not anticipate any change from the advice that non-essential travel should not go ahead from July, despite plans by airlines to resume flights.

"We have said for now to avoid non-essential travel," he said as he advised people not to book trips.

He also indicated that the new measure of filling out a locator form by people arriving on airlines here from today, along with advice to self-quarantine for two weeks, may be followed by more severe restrictions.

He said they were looking at "further measures" in relation to quarantine.

Nphet has previously asked for quarantine to be made mandatory.

Dr Holohan was speaking as a further 17 deaths were announced and 73 new cases of the virus were reported, higher than in previous days.

"We are a bit worried about that," he said. "We are going to watch that."

It is too early to indicate a trend and these new cases would not have occurred since the beginning of the first phase of relaxation on May 18.

There is a time lag in the notification of deaths and one of those reported yesterday happened on March 21. There were four deaths yesterday and three on Monday.

Distancing

Asked about his meeting with Cabinet ministers yesterday, Dr Holohan said there were "perfectly reasonable exchanges". The questions were " intelligent, straightforward and obvious".

Defending his decision to keep the two-metre physical distancing for now, he said a quarter of droplets from one person near another could travel two metres.

Asked what he would regard as a small wedding, he said he could not put a number on it but there would be further guidance in coming weeks. The risk was that they tended to be held indoors and alcohol consumed, he added.

"What we do know is that hand washing, social distancing and knowing when to self-isolate do work. The vast majority of the population understand this," he said.

Dr Siobhan Kennelly, HSE national clinical adviser on older people, said: "Covid-19 is having an impact on everyone.

"We understand that as the country reopens in phases, people may be anxious. If we all maintain social distance, wash our hands well and often and know when to self-isolate, we will keep this virus suppressed."