Video: Petrol station Covid tests, bank holiday portaloos and north-south relations

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Limerick Covid surge

Limerick is “a bit removed from” a local lockdown “at the moment”, according to Minister of State Niall Collins.

People dropping their guard combined with the reopening of the economy has led to a surge of Covid-19 in Limerick, he added.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly are set to brief Limerick-based TDs and Senators this afternoon over the recent rise of cases in the county.

Dr Holohan has expressed concern over the “significant increase” in Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks, adding the majority of the 800 cases reported “occurred as a result of indoor gatherings”.

Petrol station tests

A member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has expressed concern about the accuracy of antigen tests set to be sold at petrol stations.

MyBio, a Kilkenny-based life sciences company, has launched the 15-minute antigen tests, which claim to be European Union-certified and have a 97.83 per cent accuracy rate.

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They will be available in Circle K and Applegreen filling stations across the country from tomorrow.

On Friday morning, HSE chief clinical officer and Nphet member Dr Colm Henry told Newstalk Breakfast that while he did not know the details and had not seen the test, the accuracy figures did not “sound right” to him.

In response, managing director of MyBio Linda Nolan described Dr Henry’s comments as “disappointing” and said he was "not in a position to challenge the accuracy of the test".

Reopening progress

The co-founder of a Dublin craft brewery has said there is great excitement in the industry ahead of the reopening of bars next week.

From Monday, bars and restaurants in Ireland will be allowed to serve outdoors as part of a phased reopening over the summer following Covid restrictions.

Ireland's deputy chief medical officer has called on young people to avoid indoor meetings this bank holiday weekend.

Dr Ronan Glynn said that if people wanted to meet up, to do so out of doors, in small groups of no more than six people.

There were still hundreds of cases every week and the vast majority were now in the under-45 age group, Dr Glynn said. While they were less likely to end up being hospitalised, “you can’t be sure of any one outcome.”

Bank holiday portaloos

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Dublin City Council is installing 150 portaloo toilets, 54 large eurobins and 80 barrel bins across the city from this weekend.

It comes after large crowds gathered on the streets of Dublin, Cork and Galway last weekend amid sunny weather.

There is concern the upcoming June bank holiday weekend could see a repeat of the scenes amid the continued closure of the hospitality sector until outdoor dining resumes on Monday.

This bank holiday weekend is expected to be dry and sunny for most of the country, according to Met Éireann.

The national forecaster says temperatures could hit as high as 20 degrees in parts over the next three to four days, with next week expected to be even warmer.

North-south relations

DUP leader Edwin Poots has held “frank discussions” with Taoiseach Micheál Martin about tensions surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Poots made his first visit to Government Buildings in Dublin on Thursday since becoming party leader, where he said that the North cannot be a “plaything” of the EU.

He said north-south relations "have never been as bad," blaming past taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Mr Poots has pledged to implement Irish language legislation at Stormont in Northern Ireland as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, Arlene Foster has said party colleagues in Northern Ireland behind the move to oust her have still not spoken to her about it.

The deposed DUP leader’s remarks came after her predecessor in the role, Peter Robinson, heavily criticised the “vindictive” and “needlessly nasty” manner in which she was deposed.

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