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Clampdown on house parties as pubs reopening date is put back

Delay until August branded a 'hammer blow' for landlords

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Austin McGeough, co-owner of The Cherry Tree

Austin McGeough, co-owner of The Cherry Tree

Austin McGeough, co-owner of The Cherry Tree

The Government has announced new Covid-19 restrictions aimed at clamping down on house parties.

It comes after ministers decided to postpone plans to reopen pubs until August 10 over concerns about the increase in new coronavirus cases.

The new rules will mean a maximum of 10 people from four separate households will now be allowed to visit friends and family.

The move follows growing concerns over the spread of the virus among young people attending house parties.

After a Cabinet meeting, Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced that the country will not move into the next phase of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Screens

Mr Martin said he is concerned about the spread of the virus, and phase four of the roadmap for reopening the country would now be delayed.

The Taoiseach also announced that face coverings will become mandatory for all shoppers and retail workers.

Shop workers will be required to wear face coverings if they are not working behind screens.

Mr Martin said the Government will devise penalties for those who do not comply with the new rules.

Pubs and nightclubs were due to reopen this coming Monday but the Cabinet decided the push back the date over fears about the rise in coronavirus cases.

Central to the Government's concerns are the rise in infections among younger people who are more likely to go to pubs or attend mass gatherings.

Crowd sizes will also stay the same, as currently a maximum of 50 people are allowed to gather indoors and, while this was due to increase to 100 on July 20, the limit will remain as it is.

The same applies for outside gatherings - the limit will remain at 200, even though it was due to increase to 500.

Face coverings must now be worn by all customers in shops, with retail staff also donning face coverings where they cannot keep a distance of two metres or in the absence of a partition.

The Taoiseach added that there is "evidence" that "unrestricted house parties" have led to an increase in cases.

Eased

Advice against non-essential travel remains, even though this was due to be eased on July 20.

Speaking at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Mr Martin said the concern about the rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks is "very real".

"The priority is to get that R number below one," he added, so that we have the "best chance possible" to reopen schools in August.

"I know our people are deeply resilient, I know that we care for our families, our neighbours and our communities," he said.

He added that the delay in lifting restrictions will be "disappointing" to many.

The Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) said publicans have been dealt a "hammer blow".

The VFI said it will have huge ramifications for family-run pubs across Ireland.

"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 the NPHET."