Irish government gives green light, again, for pubs to reopen – dpa international

dpa

Pouring pints in an Irish hotel restaurant on June 29 2020, the day some pubs and restaurants were perrmitted to reopen

Pouring pints in an Irish hotel restaurant on June 29 2020, the day some pubs and restaurants were perrmitted to reopen

DUBLIN — Pubs can resume pouring pints from September 21, Ireland’s government decided on Tuesday, ending a prohibition introduced in March as part of a pandemic lockdown.

As pub owners protested in Dublin, Simon Harris, the minister responsible for science and universities, told media the reopening is being allowed as “the risk, from a public health point of view, in such pubs, is no greater now than in other settings.”

“About time,” the Licensed Vinters Association, a group representing Dublin pubs, posted on Twitter. “Absolute relief,” said Mellett’s, a pub in the west of Ireland.

Citing health worries, the government previously postponed a scheduled mid-July reopening three times, though restaurants and pubs serving food were allowed to open from June 29 – with provisos that drinkers purchase a meal priced at 9 euros or more and leave after one hour 45 minutes.

Another 3,500 pubs have had to wait, prompting anger among owners left out of pocket after restocking ahead of postponed reopenings.

“We have been marched up this hill several times before,” said Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, in a Tuesday statement.

The government has removed and reintroduced restrictions in response to fluctuations in new daily coronavirus case numbers, which have topped 200 three times since mid-August, after falling to low double digits in June.

The current regime, which allows 50 people inside restaurants but only 15 at outdoor events such as football matches, has been criticized as incoherent.

Ireland’s March-May lockdown saw the economy shrink by between 6.1 and 7.4 per cent during the second quarter, according to Central Statistics Office estimates released on Monday.

There are 48 people in hospital in Ireland who have tested positive for the virus, according to official statistics, which show almost 30,000 infections since the first was recorded in late February. Around half of Ireland’s 1,777 pandemic-related deaths have been in nursing homes.

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