Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has welcomed the response of the Vintners to the government’s appeal for pubs to close in a bid to slow the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.
He described the decision for all pubs to close as “an act of solidarity on the part of publicans that was necessary in the circumstances".
“What we saw at the weekend was activity on behalf of An Garda Síochána calling and making contact with hundreds of publicans, then the meeting yesterday afternoon between the government and publicans representatives - it has been agreed that all public houses will close,” he told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show.
“Should extra legal powers be required that of course can be done at short notice. But at the moment all pubs have agreed to close voluntarily, that includes St Patrick's day and the weeks ahead.
When asked about the possibility of ‘lock-ins’ in pubs, Mr Flanagan said: “We are living in extraordinary times, many of these measures across a range of sectors are unprecedented because of the public health requirement so I don't envisage people sneaking in to public houses by the back door no more than I do through the front door.
“Agreement has been reached with the publicans, of course the expectation is that that will be fully honoured.
"I expect that and I've very pleased that the Vintners have said that.”
Following the closure of pubs and clubs, CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association Donall O'Keeffe says the future is very concerning.
"I can tell you for nothing that in 7,000 family businesses this morning there is high levels of anxiety.
"Our ability to pay our commitments now goes to zero.
"We know we're closed until March 29 at a minimum so two full weeks and it's impossible to predict what's going to happen after that.
"But the outlook is seriously concerning."
Meanwhile, Adrian Cummins, the chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, believes restaurants across the country should be forced to close.
He says up to 70,000 jobs would be affected but the measure is necessary.
"We believe that the government should issue an order for all restaurants and cafes to close in the best interests of public health.
"We understand that the government has done as best they can and they are doing a very good job and they have actually said that they will make a decision in an orderly manner.
"We believe that this should be done sooner rather than later."