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Coronavirus Ireland: All pubs asked to close as 40 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed

  • 169 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Ireland
  • All pubs and bars asked to close until at least March 29
  • Public urged not to have or attend house parties


Simon Harris. Photo: Collins

Simon Harris. Photo: Collins

Simon Harris. Photo: Collins

All pubs have been asked to close in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus as another 40 new cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Ireland.

Those diagnosed are 23 men and 17 women, there are a now a total of 169 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic.

25 are associated with the east of the country, nine are in the west, six of the people diagnosed with coronavirus are in the south.

There have been two deaths associated with Covid-19 in Ireland.

This comes as it was confirmed that the country’s pubs and hotel bars are shutting down tonight in the latest bid to stem the spread of Covid-19, leaving 50,000 bar workers out of work and the possibility that some pubs might never open again.

Health Minister Simon Harris made the announcement today just hours after video footage of a large gathering in a Dublin city pub last night went viral causing widespread anger that social distancing requests were not being observed.

He said that many pubs have found it "simply not possible to comply" with restrictions on numbers in indoor and outdoor gatherings.

"The pub is a place of social interaction. We know when people consume alcohol it can remove inhibitions. It’s hard to tell people in such an environment to keep their social distance," he said.

He met with the chief medical officer, senior government officials, and the representative bodies of the publicans across the country today.

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"In the interests of public health all pubs and all bars in Ireland will close this evening until March 29. This will be kept under review," he said.

"We are committed to working with the industry to continue to see other ways pubs might be able to provide other services and the likes at an appropriate time," he added.

"I am conscious that public health must and will come first in this global and national pandemic, but I’m also conscious that there’s about 50,000 people across the country who work in the pub trade. I’m conscious that there’s about 7,000 pubs across our country, and I’m conscious I’m speaking to many people tonight for whom this is going to come as a shock and a worry to say the very least," said Minister Harris.

"I’m conscious that those people will be without employment for a period of weeks, but it’s absolutely clear from international evidence from the advice of our public health experts that the best hope any country has of containing this virus and slowing down its spread is to take decisive action in line with public health advice," he added.

The minister then warned against what he termed "Covid-19 parties" which he has heard are being held around the country.

"This is not an excuse to have what I am now hearing is emerging around the country - Covid-19 parties. We need people to show a bit of cop-on and a bit of common sense.

"This is a very very serious virus that has taken the lives of thousands of people across the globe including two people here in our own country. So can people please realise that this is a time of national crisis," he said.

"We need people to show that basic cop-on and decency. If we talk about a national effort and inter-generational solidarity that means not having a Covid-19 party in your house. It means not just replacing the pub with the home environment," Mr Harris added.

The ban does not affect cafes or restaurants, but does apply to hotel bars.

"We will continue to be monitoring this very closely in relation to other environments. In some of them it is perhaps easier to apply social distancing in terms of seats and tables," he explained.

Donal O’Keeffe, the chief executive of the Licenced Vintners Association, which represents Dublin pubs,

said the new measures were a "traumatic day for the licenced trade with 7,000 pubs closing with immediate effect and 50,000 jobs gone overnight.

"Our first thoughts go to our staff who are going to be in shock. It’s absolutely the right thing to do, we are doing it in the long term interest of public health of our staff and customers," he said.

He added that discussions had taken place with government departments on support measures required.

"The priority has to be to support staff in terms of claiming their entitlements. We cannot have 50,000 people turning up at offices around the country for social protection support," he added.

Mr O’Keeffe also said the industry would be appealing to the banking industry for their support.

"Our turnover goes to zero. Our ability to pay goes to zero," he said.

Brian Foley, communications and public affairs manager with the Vintners Federation of Ireland, said he feared many pubs that close tonight might never open again.

"There’s going to be a sizeable number of pubs that simply won’t be in a position to reopen, whenever that is", he explained.

Speaking about the footage that went viral online from a Dublin city pub, Minister Harris said the scenes were "really disappointing".

"At a time our nurses and our doctors are working flat out and people in the Department of Health are working 24/7, industry is wondering how it is going to manage its way through a difficult time, to see people not showing that degree of personal responsibility is not going to be acceptable or sustainable situation if we want to get on top of this," he said.

"The government will do everything it can, but that will be ineffective if the public don’t take this as seriously as they can," he added.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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