All pubs have been asked to close in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus as another 40 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Ireland.
There are now 169 cases in the Republic, the new cases are 23 men and 17 woman.
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 2 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Ireland.
All pubs and bars, including hotel bars, have been asked to close from this evening until at least March 29.
There are roughly 7,400 pubs in Ireland in the Licenced Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) networks, which employ around 50,000 staff.
Members of the public have been asked to practice social isolation and urged not to have house parties.
The move came after publican groups warned about the challenges they were having in implementing the recommended social distancing guidelines in busy premises.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Health Service Executive (HSE) boss Paul Reid are also among those who criticised the scenes of revelry in a handful of Irish pubs over the weekend.
Restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets will remain open though the situation is being carefully monitored.
Government officials, including public health experts, met with the LVA and the VFI at an emergency meeting in Dublin.
“The Government is now calling on all public houses and bars (including hotel bars) to close from this evening until at least March 29,” a Government spokesperson confirmed.
The public are also urged not to organise or participate in any parties in private houses or other venues which would put other peoples’ health at risk.
Both the LVA and VFI supported the closure decision and urged all their members to close in line with the Government’s request.
However, hundreds of Irish pubs, cafes and restaurants had already opted to voluntarily shutdown over the Covid-19 crisis as the Government is set to impose tougher social distancing measures to avoid any risk of infection spread in pubs over St Patrick’s Day.
All Temple Bar pubs and clubs in Dublin had indicated at lunchtime today they would close after operators said it was virtually impossible to impose recommended social distancing guidelines.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – reacting to alarm at so-called student ‘virus parties’ and scenes of packed Dublin pubs over the weekend – warned the Government would seek special enforcement powers from the Dáil and Seanad if required.
“I have asked the NPHET for futher expert guidance on this – (we) may enforcement powers from the Dáil and Seanad.”
Mr Varadkar warned revellers that irresponsible social behaviour risks spreading the virus and making vulnerable people “very, very sick.”
Temple Bar publicans confirmed an immediate shutdown of all bars and clubs in one of Ireland’s largest entertainment zones ahead of one of their busiest times of the season.
The decision came shortly after Mr Varadkar expressed concern at social media images of revellers out in Dublin on Saturday night – and input from both gardaí and health officials.
A total of 35 publicans attended the Dublin meeting.
Temple Bar Company director Martin Harte said the closure decision was voluntary and taken because of the challenges publicans faced over enforcing social distancing recommendations.
All pubs nationwide will now remain closed until March 29 at the earliest.
Leading oncologist Prof John Crown had urged for several days that the
Government close all
bars and clubs.
The Bishop of Limerick, Dr Brendan Leahy, publicly criticised those
who insisted on carrying on their social lives as normal last weekend
despite the Covid-19 threat.
Speaking at the end of Sunday Mass via webcam in St John’s Cathedral
in Limerick, Dr Leahy urged people to “take responsibility” before a
government workplace shutdown is imposed on pubs and clubs.
He appealed to “young adults in particular to do their part” in
changing their social habits so as to meet the “unprecedented
challenge” with lives on the line.
“It is clear that we, as a public, cannot afford to be nonchalant
about social gatherings anymore”, he said.
Government and health officials last night met with vintners and
hotelier groups to agree a clearer approach to Covid-19 protection
The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) warned that the current social
distancing guidelines were unworkable in a pub setting.
But the LVA also hit-out at “a small number of pubs flouting the
coronavirus guidance – these pubs have been seriously irresponsible
and their behaviour is completey and utterly unacceptable.”
Another hotel and restaurant industry official warned that, without
concrete Government support measures, operators will now face a
cash-flow crisis within four to six weeks such has been the level of
collapse in business over the past six days.
Vintners groups and the Irish Hotels Federation are demanding
immediate Government measures on VAT relief, PRSI delays, cash-flow
aid and Government-led relief via the banking sector.
Some operators felt they had no option but to close for at least a fortnight.
The voluntary shutdowns took place nationwide as some operators said
they were responding to both public and staff concerns over the
Other pub and restaurant owners cited the virtual collapse in business
amid public Covid-19 fears.
In Dublin, dozens of high-profile pubs had already confirmed they were closing –
while health officials admitting they were appalled by the scenes of
revellery from a packed Temple Bar outlet on Saturday night.
The scenes – understood to involve a group from the UK attending a
stag park in Dublin – prompted social media condemnation and messages
of concern from Health Minister Simon Harris and Health Service
Executive boss Paul Reid.
While some outlets have indicated they will attempt to stay open, a
number of Dublin outlets had signalled on Friday they were closing for
at least a fortnight.
Amongst the famous pubs and clubs to close were Copper Faced Jacks,
Peadar Browns, Ohana, Zozimus, Grogan’s Castle, The Camden and The
Back Page, The Bernard Shaw and The Black Wolf.
Others to temporarily close included Michael’s Seafood Bistro, Bonobo
and Big Romance.
More than 30 Dublin pubs had indicated they were closing by early Sunday.
In Cork, publican Benny McCabe, operator of the Heritage Pub group,
opted to close on Saturday night.
The pubs temporarily closed include The Bodega, Mutton Lane and Crane
Lane amongst others.
Other well known outlets to close include Dwyer’s, Rearden’s on
Washington Street and The Shelbourne Bar on MacCurtain Street.
Shelbourne operator, Philip Gillivan, a former President of Cork
Business Association (CBA), said they were closing until March 29 as:
“Our team, our customers and the people of Cork need to stay safe and
fight this together and we will all prevail.”
Restaurants including the Liberty Grill had closed on Friday.
Others said they may have to shutdown as some restaurants were only
one-quarter full at peak time on Saturday night.
In Kerry, a flood of pub and restaurants confirmed they were closing
in response to the Covid-19 crisis – just 48 hours before the hectic
traditional start to the local tourism season at St Patrick’s Day.
The Grand Hotel and Laurel’s Bar in Killarney as well as Cassidy’s in
Tralee confirmed they were closing for a fortnight.
The Dingle Bay Hotel and Paudie’s Bar also confirmed they were closing
from 5pm on Sunday.
“Sincere apologies to all our loyal customers but we need to act
accordingly – your health is your wealth.”
Other high profile outlets to announce temporary shutdowns in the
cradle of Irish tourism include Kane’s in Ballyferriter, Paddy Bawn
Brosnan’s Bar, Kennedy’s in Dingle, Dick Mack’s in Dingle and
Spillane’s Bar in Maharees.
In Limerick, the Locke Bar and Restaurant, Pharmacia Pub, Clarke’s
Pub, Marco Polo, Jasmine Palace and The Chicken Hut all announced two
week closures because of Covid-19.
From The Irish Independent.