PHA advice ahead of St Patrick’s Day
The Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging people to find alternative ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and avoid the temptation of meeting up or partying with friends or family.
Dr Stephen Bergin, Interim Director of Public Health at the PHA, said: “After a very tough winter we are all looking forward to nicer weather and brighter days, but we are in a very important moment of the pandemic. After months of home-schooling, isolation from people who we would normally spend time with, and working from home, for many of us it might be tempting to break up the monotony of everyday life on 17 March by gathering with others, but it’s essential that we don’t become complacent.
“Be sure to stick to the guidance and help keep down infection rates of COVID-19. The sacrifices we have all made during this lockdown are making a difference, and infection rates are dropping – that combined with the roll out of the vaccination programme provides many reasons to be hopeful as we approach St Patrick’s Day and Easter, but it remains as important as ever to continue following the advice and regulations if we are to have better times ahead.
“The rule to stay at home remains in place as we are still in lockdown, and although many people will be off work and children will have more free time during the day, it’s really important that we all stay local, do not travel around the country and don’t mix households.”
The core advice around what we can do to reduce our risk has been in place since the start of the pandemic and it is really important that we continue to follow these steps:
- Maintain a social distance of at least 2m (around 6ft) between you and anyone outside of your household, to minimise your exposure to the virus and reduce the potential of spreading the infection.
- It is also important to wash your hands properly, as this is one of the most effective things you can do to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Wash hands regularly, and use sanitiser outside your home when hand washing isn’t possible, especially as you enter a building and after you have had contact with surfaces. Also try to avoid touching your face, and wash your hands as soon as you get home. If you sneeze or cough, ‘catch it, bin it, kill it.’
- Wear a face covering indoors where social distancing isn’t possible, or where it’s required, such as in shops, shopping centres, taxis, public transport and banks. If you are wearing a face covering, don’t get a false sense of security about the level of protection it may offer, you still need to maintain your distance and have good hand hygiene.
It’s also important that when you’re invited to get your vaccine that you take up the offer. If you’re in one of the groups already eligible and you haven’t yet received your vaccine, please book an appointment to do so.
Dr Bergin continued: “We know it’s difficult but many celebrations have looked different during the pandemic and St Patrick’s Day should be no different. We’re finding new ways of connecting to people and in being apart we’ve become very aware of what brings us together as a community.
“St Patrick’s Day has traditionally been a way for us to show creativity and talent and this year gives us the opportunity to be innovative in a new way, connecting virtually with people who have shared interests or want to learn more about each other’s traditions.
“Music forms a large part of St Patrick’s Day celebration and is also a fantastic way of lifting our mood. If you play an instrument, use the day or the run up to the day to learn some new tunes and the joy is in the sharing, so play the songs for your family and friends. You could hold a virtual session, getting your friends and relatives to join in too with songs, poetry and stories of their own.
“If you’ve ever learned any Irish dancing, you could teach the kids a few steps. But be careful not to cause yourself any injuries if you’re planning to have a céilí in the kitchen.
“Having a Guinness is many people’s part of the celebration so you could have a video call with friends and toast the day but don’t overdo it get to know your alcohol units and stay safe. It not recommended that men and women drink any more than 14 units per week and these should be spread evenly over three or more days with alcohol-free days included in your plans. You can’t ‘save up’ your units for a particular day or celebration. A 440ml can of Guinness contains 1.8units of alcohol. So you can see how having a few can quickly put you near or above your limit.
“And don’t forget what the day is all about – tell the story of St Patrick and watch some movies and animations about it as a family. Irish broadcasters usually have a lot of coverage of events on St Patrick’s Day and this year you can also checkout St Patrick’s Festival TV broadcasting online between 12-17 March.
“We have come a long way and collectively worked hard to get to a better place in this pandemic, but this fight is not over and we don’t want to slip back to a very bad situation with an increase in cases, hospitalisations and severe illness from the virus. So think sensibly about your actions and don’t put you, your family or your community at risk.
“Let’s all make sure we do what we can to stay safe.”
For more information see www.pha.site/coronavirus