Pubs and large public gatherings could be last to come back after Covid-19 crisis: Varadkar

Pubs and large public gatherings could be last to come back after Covid-19 crisis: Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned that large public gatherings and busy pubs could be last to re-open when the Covid-19 crisis passes.

"For publicans and restaurant owners and people working in the hospitality sector, this must be a very worrying time. Because, you know, the chances are that as we reopen the economy, the things we're going to reopen last for obvious reasons are going to be mass gatherings and places where people congregating could pass on infection," he said.

"That's a real difficulty for them, and I appreciate that and we'll do our best to assist them to get started again once we can reopen.

"I hope we don't have to wait for a vaccine, or effective treatments to do that. But we just don't know the answer to those questions at this time and I wish I could give people more certainty, but I really can't," he said.

In relation to the large numbers of Eastern European workers coming in last week to pick fruit, Mr Varadkar said he and the Government "never envisaged" that scenario when introducing the lockdown restrictions.

"Agricultural workers are deemed essential workers because we do have to bring in the harvest, in order to ensure that we have enough food to eat. So I think we will understand why they are essential workers. Although I have to say when we deemed agriculture workers to be essential workers, I hadn't envisaged hundreds of casual workers coming in from outside of the country.

"So I think what we're going to try and do now is to work with the sector to see if we can find an adequate number of Irish people or residents at the very least, who will take up those positions. And if not, then we have to make a decision to let the crop to fail or not.

"Or do we allow workers to continue to come in from other parts of the European Union, but with very defined and monitored quarantine arrangements to make sure that they don't create a new cluster of the virus," he said.

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