GP wants social distancing decision to be 'based on science, not popularity'

GP wants social distancing decision to be

A GP has said any easing of Covid-19 social distancing restrictions must be based on science.

It comes amid reports that some Government ministers are calling for a reduction in physical distancing rules.

It is understood "robust" discussions were held at Cabinet on Friday about changing the advice from two metres to one to help the hospitality sector.

Current World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines state keeping a one-metre distance from each other is sufficient.

The WHO said: "Maintain at least one metre (three feet) distance between yourself and others."

However, guidance from the Health Service Executive (HSE) says a space of two metres (6.5 feet) should be kept between people.

A meeting could be held next week between Cabinet ministers and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to discuss the rules.

However, GP Nina Byrnes told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh the advice should only be changed if there is evidence to support it.

"We're not even a week into the first easing of restrictions - and remember that the virus has a two-week incubation period.

"So we really need to give it a bit more time, at least the second week, to see where we are.

Certainly, if the distance can be reduced to one metre based on science - and I think that's really important - that that decision is based on science, not based on popularity.

"All this is about keeping people safe.

"If we can scientifically prove that if we are doing all the other things - we're washing our hands, we're doing the cough etiquette, we're wearing masks in shops and stuff like that - if we can safely have a one-metre distance in certain places even then obviously that would be welcome.

"I recognise that would have a huge impact for schools and for restaurants and for other businesses.

"But it does have to be grounded in science, it has to be done in keeping us safe.

"I feel sorry for [CMO] Tony Holohan and the team because sometimes the decisions they make are not popular, and they are put daily under pressure to say 'when are we going to do this, when are we going to do that'.

"I think we have to remember that they are as affected by these decisions as we are.

"Their lives are impacted, their families are impacted, and I'm sure they want them lifted as much as anyone else.

"But they are making those decisions because the science tell us it's the right thing to do to keep us safe".