The Government has confirmed that the planned reopening of pubs has been pushed back to 10th August, over concerns about the increase in new COVID 19 cases in recent days.
‘Wet’ pubs (i.e. pubs serving only alcohol and no food), along with nightclubs, were due to reopening on Monday 20th July under the Government’s phased reopening strategy. However the cabinet has now decided to push back the date over fears of an increases in cases.
The Government is chiefly concerned about younger people becoming infected as they are most likely to go to busy pubs and nightclubs, were they to reopen.
The decision had been anticipated by many. On Tuesday 14th July, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) warned against moving into Phase 4 of reopening and recommended the date by pushed by to 10th August, the original Phase 5 deadline.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) which represents pubs outside of Dublin has said the Government decision is “a shocking development that will have huge ramifications for family-run pubs across Ireland”.
VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben said: “This is a shocking decision not to proceed with the planned reopening of pubs and will be a hammer blow to thousands of pubs and their local communities around the country. The vast majority of these pubs are small rural outlets run by families who are on first-name terms with their customers and far removed from the crowded venues that concern NPHET. As controlled venues we believe these pubs should be allowed open as they are far safer than the likes of uncontrolled house parties and pose little threat to public health.
This is a decision made by politicians who appear divorced from reality about life in rural Ireland.”
The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) criticised the delay in making this decision, highlighting the difficult position it had put pubs and staff who had been expecting to open next Monday. They called for the guidelines to immediately be published which will allow the pubs time to adequately prepare for 10th August.
Additionally, the cabinet is expected to recommend that face coverings become mandatory indoors, as well as discouraging against any foreign travel.