Taoiseach warns that reopening of pubs could be delayed if Covid figures surge


The Taoiseach has warned that the full reopening of pubs from July 20 could be delayed if Covid figures surge.

Micheál Martin issued the warning this morning as he expressed concerns about some of the scenes witnessed outside city pubs in Dublin and Cork over the weekend.

He also said that a government decision on non-essential overseas travel won’t be made until later this month amid increasing concerns about the volatility of the Covid situation internationally.

He said both issues will be discussed at this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting as the government focuses on reopening on schools in late August, launching its jobs stimulus programme, and ensuring hospitals can ramp up their non-Covid activity.

The meeting will include a briefing on the garda operation which was mounted over the weekend following concerns that some licensed premises and their customers have not been adhering to the public health guidelines since the re-opening of licensed premises which sell food last Monday.

Mr Martin said there have been some 5,500 inspections of licensed premises and in general licensees were compliant.

But he told PJ Coogan on Cork’s 96fm that there have been breaches of the regulations and that is a big worry, with concerns about social distancing not being observed, about opening hours not being adhered to, and in some cases, about alcohol being sold for consumption off-site.

He said public health experts are growing increasingly concerned and he said the reopening of all pubs from July 20 will depend on the rates of Covid over the coming days.

“We can’t risk it – we don’t want to injure the majority because people have businesses and have to survive.

“But there is an obligation on everybody to behave here, and on ourselves, as the public. Individual responsibility matters here – that’s been the key so far,” he said.

He also said that a timeline and methodology on the drawing up of a green list of safe countries to visit will be published after today’s Cabinet meeting, but that a decision on whether to approve such countries won’t be made until later this month.

A second wave would be a disaster for the economy and the country in terms of the impact on the finances of the country.

“We are heading for a deficit of €20bn or higher – it’s not a bottomless pit of funding,” he said.

In an interview later with Neil Prendeville on Cork’s RedFM, he said the fear is that international travel could reignite the virus here and he urged airlines like Ryanair to engage with their customers.

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