Coronavirus: Govt calls on all pubs to close

Leo Varadkar reinforced the point that there should be no indoor gathering over 100 people to try and halt the outbreak of Covid-19 - and that this includes pubs and clubs.

Coronavirus: Govt calls on all pubs to close

Update: The Government has called on all pubs and bars, including hotel bars, to close from this evening until at least March 29.

It follows talks with the Licenced Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), who outlined the difficulty with implementing the social distancing guidelines in pubs.

The Government has also called on people NOT to organise or take part in any parties in houses or other venues which would put other peoples’ health at risk.

The LVA and VFI both supported the decision and urged all their members to close in line with the Government’s request.

The Government said it will also monitor restaurants and cinemas on the effectiveness of the guidelines on social distancing in the coming days.

Earlier: Coronavirus: Temple Bar pubs close as Taoiseach seeks to stop mass gatherings in pubs

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said his Government is likely to seek greater enforcement powers to stop mass gatherings in pubs and clubs.

Images showing a packed Dublin bar over the weekend have been met with overt criticism from ministers and Paul Reid, the CEO of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Mr Varadkar took to Twitter on Sunday morning to say that the Government’s direction that “no indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people applies to pubs and clubs.”

He said he has asked the State’s National Public Health Emergency Team for “further expert guidance on this” and that he “may seek enforcement powers from Dáil/Seanad.”

“People who have been out this weekend should avoid physical contact with seniors or people with chronic diseases. You could make them very, very sick,” Mr Varadkar said.

He was responding to pictures and video clips shared on social media depicting a packed bar in Dublin's Temple Bar on Saturday.

The images provoked a strong reaction from some that so many people were ignoring clear advice on social distancing.

Health Minister Simon Harris branded the video circulating on social media as an “insult” to the efforts of nurses and doctors working to prepare for a pandemic.

Throughout the weekend, an increasing number of pubs and restaurants decided to shut their doors due to coronavirus, with many having to lay off staff.

In a statement, the Temple Bar company has announced with immediate effect the closure of all pubs and nightclubs in the area.

"In the interest of public health and following advice from An Garda Siochana and the health authorities The Temple Bar Company and its members have today decided that all pubs and nightclubs in Temple Bar will close their premises voluntarily with immediate effect. And will do so until further advice by the relevant authorities.

This decision was taken in light of the experiences of members of The Temple Bar Company over the last few days when it proved impossible to follow the public health advice to limit numbers and adequately implement measures on to control social distancing.

"Members of The Temple Bar Company felt it was inappropriate to request the diversion of Garda resources away from more pressing needs," the statement said.

"As part of the effort to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 virus The Temple Bar Company will intensify its disinfecting and power-washing of the streets and public spaces in the Temple Bar area as required. According to CEO Martin Harte of the Temple Bar Company Temple Bar is a hugely busy popular area with an annual footfall of just over 22 million. And therefore, this decision was the correct one given the unprecedented circumstances," the group added.

The Mercantile Group also announced the closure of its pubs and restaurants, which includes Whelan's, The George, the Crafty Fox and Cafe en Seine.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said a direction from the government telling pubs to close “would suffice” rather than seeking new laws to order them shut.

Speaking on Sunday after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar opened the door to seeking such powers, Mr Martin said such a direction from government would be enough, but said in his view all pubs should be closed on St Patrick's Day.

“In my view, a recommendation from government would suffice the short term, I think most pubs would call this not all would cause if there was a clear message from government to carry instruction to close,” he said.

“I think, for example, in St. Patrick's Day pubs should not open at all, in my view, I think we've seen from experiences over the weekend that social distancing just simply does not happen in quite a number of pubs," he said.

That was evident last evening. Lots of lots of people are contacting me contacting public representatives all over the country, I get the sense there's a general desire to close pubs.

The Fianna Fáil leader said that while many have clearly ignored warnings to date, many pubs themselves are looking to government to issue a closure order. He also said there would be much disquiet were publicans and members of the public to continue to defy such orders.

“Well, I think there would be a lot of social upset if they didn't. I think they will. If powers are needed we will bring in the powers. And that that, of course, is something that can be done under legislation has to be pinpointed. But in my view, I believe if a clear message went out in the next 24 hours, that would actually be adhered to. Many pubs, to be fair, are asking for this,” he said.


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