Alcohol Action Ireland, the independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, has today (8th September) welcomed the decision by government to signal the phased, safe reopening of all pubs from 21st September.
From the early days of the pandemic crisis, Alcohol Action Ireland have been voicing our concern about the level of alcohol pouring into peoples’ homes – the unfettered ‘free-flowing’ use of cheap alcohol, and highlighting the impact of such heightened behaviour to the already difficult lives of the 200,000 children who live every day with parental alcohol misuse in Ireland.
The reopening of the pubs under reasonable restrictions, to be reinforced by the Gardai, is a useful step in regaining some control on our erratic engagement with alcohol use during the COVID crisis.
Restricting the time people spent in pubs will be beneficial, as people are offered better conditions in which to adhere to the established low-risk drinking guidelines: 17 standard drinks for men; 11 for women.
Alcohol use and our capacity to adhere to public health COVID guidelines are difficult bedfellows. Fundamentally, alcohol use impairs judgement, lower inhibitions and reduces reaction time; coordination, balance, perception and self-control are all affected.
Crucially, loss of agency weakens personal resolve to manage transmission risk. We cannot hope to protect each other if some occupy a public, yet temporary, incapacity to act responsibly and do the important things necessary to stop the spread.