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Publicans left 'reeling' after ruling to postpone reopening

Young people's habits a concern

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There has been a marked rise in coronavirus infections among younger people, who are more likely to congregate in pubs to drink (stock photo)

There has been a marked rise in coronavirus infections among younger people, who are more likely to congregate in pubs to drink (stock photo)

There has been a marked rise in coronavirus infections among younger people, who are more likely to congregate in pubs to drink (stock photo)

Publicans have been dealt a "hammer blow" after pubs were told they cannot now reopen as planned next week.

The Government decided to postpone plans to reopen pubs next Monday until August over concerns about the increase in new coronavirus cases, particularly among young people.

Announcing the decision to delay phase four of the reopening of the country last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he had received "sobering" news from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

He warned that the concern about the rise in the number of cases over recent weeks "is very real".

He said the priority must be to get the R number - the rate at which the virus is transmitted - back below 1 after it rose to between 1.2 and 1.8.

There has been a marked rise in coronavirus infections among younger people, who are more likely to congregate in pubs to drink.

The Taoiseach said the Government would launch a renewed communications campaign for all age groups and "refocus the message for our young people about the role they can play in preventing the further spread of the virus".

Mr Martin said those pubs that don't serve food, and which were unable to reopen at the end of June, must now wait until August 10 to open their doors again.

Some 3,438 pubs had planned to reopen next week, and many of these are in rural areas.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland warned this will have huge ramifications for family-run pubs across Ireland, and said publicans were "reeling" as a result of the decision.

"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," said VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben. "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."

He warned small rural pubs would be hit hard by another three weeks of closure.

"It's going to make it very, very difficult for many to survive without a strong support package from Government.

"Those businesses that are closed for five months will need substantial grants - not loans, grants.

"They need cash injections to keep them going, including the costs of insurance and all other bills."

The Taoiseach also announced that face coverings will have to be worn by all customers in shops and shopping centres, and night clubs will also not be able to reopen until August 10.

Limits on mass gatherings will remain unchanged for now, with 50 people allowed to gather indoors and 200 outdoors.

After evidence that "unrestricted house parties have led to a rise in recent outbreaks of the virus", Mr Martin said the Government was recommending that social visits to people's homes be limited to a maximum of 10 visitors from no more than four households.

On the issue of foreign travel, he said that while the Government will publish its 'green list' of countries on Monday - those countries from which people will be able to arrive in Ireland without having to quarantine - it will nonetheless still urge people against unnecessary foreign travel.

He said the list would be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.

"I know that some of the steps I am announcing this evening will come as a disappointment. But I also know that our people are deeply resilient," he said.

He said delaying further easing of the lockdown will protect the progress that has been made to date.

Irish Independent