Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has thrown her weight behind PSNI calls for young people to stay out of Belfast's Holyland on St Patrick's Day tomorrow.
The Sinn Fein vice-president told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "I would urge people to follow the PSNI's advice and avoid gathering in the Holyland on St Patrick's Day.
"Large crowds in close proximity will accelerate the spread of the coronavirus."
It's understood that the PSNI will have 80 officers on duty to oversee the annual student celebrations, with more available if needed.
"I welcome that some pubs, bars and restaurants have taken the responsible step to close," Mrs O'Neill added.
"Be smart and be safe and heed advice on St Patrick's Day.
"If you don't, you are endangering others who are more vulnerable."
One councillor said elderly Holyland residents are frightened by the prospect of crowds of young people in the area on St Patrick's Day.
DUP Botanic representative Tracy Kelly said: "I've been speaking to some of the long-term residents and they are very frightened.
"Some of them are elderly, and some of them could be vulnerable, and a having a large crowd come into the community is obviously very scary for them."
SDLP councillor Gary McKeown also endorsed the PSNI appeal.
"The idea that the Holyland should become party central at this time of the year is totally unacceptable," he said.
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