The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) yesterday advised that so-called "wet bars" which do not serve food should remain closed until at least August 31. It is the second time the government has postponed moving to Phase 4 of the reopening roadmap.
The decision has attracted huge criticism from publicans, who say they have been abandoned.
In the NPHET advice published today, it is recommended that if pubs do open at the end of the month, they will need to be more stringently policed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The letter from Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn says that pubs and bars pose "a particular risk to the spread of Covid-19 as alcohol can make people less aware of social distancing and respiratory and hygiene behaviours".
The advice adds that loud environments can lead to an increase of droplets being spread and that many pubs have poor ventilation.
When pubs do open, the advice says, pubs should be required to:
- Have staff wear face coverings
- Close at 10.30pm
- Only allow customers sit, with no seating at the bar
- Only carry out table service
- Have adequate tracing facilities
Taoiseach Micheál Martin last night said that he could offer "no guarantees" that pubs could open at all this year.
The NPHET advice reveals that medical professionals had advised restaurants close at 10.30pm, but the government set that limit at 11pm. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said this was being done to "prevent restaurants essentially acting as pubs".
He said the timing only applied to when customers had to leave the premises.
"It’s 11pm, but obviously they can stay open for takeaways and deliveries and for staff to clean up," he said.