Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said there is no evidence supporting the safe reopening of "wet pubs" before Christmas.
In his state of the nation address, in what will be seen as a major blow to the pub trade, Mr Martin said he could not support a reopening of pubs that do not serve food.
“Unfortunately, nothing in the research available to government supports any further reopening of wet pubs at this stage. I know how deeply frustrating this will be for business owners in this sector. I fully accept their goodwill about respecting guidelines.
"But the reality is that reopening indoor hospitality carries risks. And there's only so far we can safely go,” he said.
“In easing restrictions, we are going as far as we believe it is possible to achieve the best balance of health, economic, and social considerations, but no further,” Mr Martin said.
Mr Martin placed a heavy emphasis on the need for people to take personal responsibility in combatting the virus and managing the risk in the phases of reopening.
“Every contact counts,” he said.
“We are trusting business owners, and we are trusting their customers. We all have individual personal responsibility, and by closely following the rules, we believe we can make this reopening sustainable,” he said.
The Taoiseach said he and the Government are satisfied that this combination of new arrangements strikes a safe balance between maintaining the pressure on the disease and creating space for families, friends and loved ones to be together this Christmas.
"After Christmas comes the new year. The days will start to lengthen again. And we can face into 2021 with renewed hope."
He said that as we go through the daily experience of the fight against COVID, it can be easy to forget the magnitude of what it is we are fighting against.
“Tonight, as I speak to you, this virus has killed more than 3,000 people on our island. That is a terrible toll, and behind that number, there are many thousands of partners, children siblings and friends who are grieving,” he said.
“We learned key lessons from the first wave. And through this great national effort we've pushed the virus back to the point where we now have the second-lowest infection rate in the European Union,” he said.
He said many individuals and businesses have made huge sacrifices, and many more are totally fed up with COVID-19 and everything that has come with it over the past nine months.
“I understand that feeling very often I shared it,” Mr Martin said.
In a message to young people, Mr Martin praised their resilience and said they are the future of the country.
“And I have a message for our children. I know this is a very special time of year for you. And I know this is a very special night with the Toy Show coming very soon.
“But I want to say thank you. Your strength and the way you've coped with the challenge of COVID is an inspiration. You keep us going and drive us forward. You are the future of this country. And we all want to make sure that you have the opportunity to grow and drive,” he said.