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Pubs left in limbo as Donnelly refuses to give reopening date

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Tourists in Temple Bar check to see what’s open

Tourists in Temple Bar check to see what’s open

Tourists in Temple Bar check to see what’s open

Publicans may be left out in the cold again, after the Health Minister failed to confirm all pubs will be allowed to reopen on August 10.

Minister Stephen Donnelly refused to be drawn on the reopening of all pubs, saying the State's priority was to open up schools at the end of August and start of September.

So-called 'wet' pubs, those that don't serve food, had been due to trade again as part of Phase 4 of the reopening of the economy after lockdown but a decision will now not be made until next week.

Minister Donnelly told RTE's This Week programme: "I don't want to make any comments on that because that is something for Nphet (National Public Health Emergency Team) to come to me with a view on Tuesday.

"But it is certainly the case that decisions could be made if Nphet deemed necessary in order to keep the opening of schools on track.

Nightlife

"We have closely followed public health advice, both the previous government and this Government, and that has served the country very well.

"So, I don't want to prejudge what Nphet may decide.

"Certainly, the number one focus is getting the schools reopened."

The health minister added that he is sympathetic to publicans, however nightlife had led to an increase in the infection rate in other countries.

"I asked exactly this question to the public health officials and what they said was, the international experience shows that when the pubs reopen the number of new cases goes up," he said.

"What they found was that this doesn't seem to be the case with restaurants, for example, which is why they advised that restaurants could open with all of these with the restrictions in place.

"So the public health officials are concerned about what has happened in other countries.

"But the publicans are in a very, very difficult position, and I have huge sympathy with them and the Government has huge sympathy with them."

Nphet will provide its recommendations to the Government tomorrow against a backdrop of rising cases in Ireland, in recent days.

Wayne Harding, owner of the Village Inn, in Slane, Co Kildare, told the Herald: "There's only 15 pubs in Temple Bar and there are 3,000 pubs across the country, village pubs without high density some in the countryside with picnic tables and outdoor facilities.

"It's no longer the case that one date fits all. I can't see, considering the rising cases, how Temple Bar pubs can reopen on August 10 but loads of pubs in the country could open.

"How can one pub open because they sell food and another not? Does food mean you won't catch this disease?

"We feel we can operate safely as any pub already open has. We closed in March because of the threat to our healthcare system and to keep the fatalities down.

"Now they are potentially looking at extending the closure because the priority is to open the schools.

"I support both keeping frontline staff safe and I have children going to school and I want the schools to reopen.

"But If I start selling pizza in the morning, I can open - it's ludicrous."

Meanwhile, in the UK it emerged that pubs may have to close once again, to assist with the reopening of schools.

A number of cases has been linked back to pubs in the UK.