Government presses pause button on Phase 4 move
The Government has opted not to allow remaining pubs to reopen – and has held firm on the existing limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings.
And it has announced that face coverings will be mandatory in shops and shopping centres from Monday.
This evening, Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced the Cabinet had agreed not to proceed with Phase Four of the Reopening of Society and Business.
From Monday next, August 10, it had been planned that all pubs, bars, hotel bars and casinos may reopen and that gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors would be permitted.
However, the Government has deferred the introduction of Phase Four and instead said the situation would be reviewed in three weeks’ time.
Gatherings will remain at 200 for outdoors and 50 for indoors.
Also five countries, Cyprus, Malta, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marino, have been removed the from Green List, meaning anyone travelling to Ireland from those countries will now have to limit movement for 14 days upon their arrival. However, the Government continues to advise people not to travel, if possible.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said: “I know that this will come as a blow to pub owners and I want them to know that I have enormous sympathy for their plight. This virus is taking away their ability to earn a living. It is stopping them from providing a key service in the heart of many communities, especially in rural Ireland.
“International evidence shows very clearly that pubs and nightclubs reopening too early leads directly and inextricably to increased community transmission.
“And that is the very worst thing that could happen here. It would be very damaging for our economy in the longer term, it would be very damaging for our plan to reopen schools safely, and it would of course be very damaging for our public health.”
He said the decisions were taken on foot of advice from NPHET and he pointed to two statistics as an indication of “the precarious position” Ireland is now in.
The five-day moving average for confirmed cases newly reported to the Department of Health is 45.4. For comparison, this is up from 6.4 on June 24 and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 is 7.54. This is up from 2.46 in the 14 days up to June 30.
The Government also announced that following “reports that there was an issue with people in Direct Provision settings being reluctant to come Direct Provision residents will be treated the same as any other citizen in terms of social protection supports when it comes to Covid-19.
Responding to the news, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) accused the Government of having “abandoned the 3,500 smaller pubs across Ireland”.
The two representative bodies now believe the sector is facing a full-blown crisis which will place “intolerable pressure” on publicans, staff, suppliers and all their families.
They also said that the decision will be met with “fury and despair” across the sector.
The LVA and the VFI said the “sympathy” being expressed by the Government figures will not save pub businesses or jobs. Both bodies called for the immediate introduction of a “meaningful support package” for the pubs in light of this latest development as pubs who are closed will not benefit from the stimulus package announced in July.