Ireland pub reopening delayed until August 10 over coronavirus fears

Ireland delays reopening pubs and nightclubs until August 10 and scraps plans to allow crowds to gather indoors from Monday after spike in coronavirus cases

  • The total number of people infected per positive case is now between 1.2 and 1.8 
  • Taoiseach Micheal Martin said it was ‘the right thing…to press the pause button’ 
  • Irish publicans described today’s announcement as a ‘hammer blow’ to business

The reopening of Ireland’s remaining pubs and nightclubs is to be delayed until August 10 amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

Plans to allow larger crowds to gather indoors and outdoors from Monday have also been scrapped as the country’s R rate – the total number of people infected per positive case – is now between 1.2 and 1.8.

Venues which serve food have been allowed to open since June 29, and can continue to do so despite today’s announcement, but publicans described slamming the brakes on the next stage of the country’s emergence from lockdown as a ‘hammer blow’. 

Taoiseach Micheal Martin told a press conference earlier: ‘It is the right thing to do – to press the pause button.’

Pub managers such as Eric Connell, pictured, of the Doherty & Nesbitt in Dublin, have been able to serve customers since June 29 if they provide food, but the next stage of Ireland’s emergence from lockdown has now been put on hold

Social visits to people’s homes will remain limited to a maximum of 10 visitors from no more than four other households.

Restrictions on indoor gatherings to 50 and outdoors to 200 will remain until August 10, Mr Martin said – a setback to cultural facilities like theatres and cinemas and organisers of outdoor sports.

Face coverings will also become mandatory in shops and other indoor public spaces.

Mr Martin said his main priority was to reopen schools in September then resume non-Covid health services as quickly as he could.

‘If we did not intervene and take these measures it would take an inevitable course, which is in nobody’s interest.’

Pubs that serve food can continue to serve alcohol with a substantial meal.

Chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the number of cases had increased over recent days and expressed concern about the number of contacts for some individuals and over the development of infection clusters.

He added: ‘It is a pause. Compared to many countries around the world we are still in a good position. The challenge is to maintain that good position and ensure that the good work over many months is not lost.

‘This virus is extremely infectious. It wants to spread but it needs people to come into contact with each other to do so.’

Taoiseach Micheal Martin told a press conference earlier: ‘It is the right thing to do – to press the pause button’

Monday was supposed to mark the next stage of Ireland’s road map out of social distancing restrictions which have paralysed life there since March.

Ministers were advised by public health doctors to proceed cautiously.

Two more people have died with Covid-19 in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team said, bringing the total to 1,748.

As of midnight on Tuesday, the health system had been notified of 14 more confirmed cases.

Publicans said they would now lose 40% of their trading year following the delay in reopening.

Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA) chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said: ‘This is a hammer blow for our industry.

‘It does appear that pubs are being singled out. Pubs were first closed and last to reopen.

‘No other part of the domestic economy is still shut. We have continually been placed in the last phase of the reopening road map.’

Ireland has made good progress in containing the virus, driving the reproductive rate down through a speedy lockdown.

Publicans said they would now lose 40% of their trading year following the delay in reopening

Its new coalition Government has made dealing with the fallout its number one priority.

On Wednesday, Irish police said the vast majority of licensed premises had been found to be in compliance with regulations and licensing laws.

In 37 individual cases – including 26 during the weekend of July 3-5 – officers found potential breaches of health regulations or licensing laws even after providing premises with the opportunity to rectify the situation.

In all these cases, gardai found customers consuming alcohol but no evidence of food also being consumed and no evidence of receipts to show food had been sold.

John Twomey, deputy commissioner in charge of policing and security, said: ‘The continued high level of compliance among licensed premises is very welcome.

‘However, there remains a minority who are putting their employees, their customers and their local community at risk of getting Covid-19.’

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