Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

06.55 4 Aug 2020


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The Cabinet will meet today to decide if stage four of the roadmap for reopening can go ahead as planned next Monday.

It will include a decision on whether pubs which don't serve food can reopen for the first time since March.

It comes amid the recent spike in new COVID-19 cases, with 182 new coronavirus cases confirmed since Friday.

46 new infections were recorded yesterday - 85% of which were in people under 45.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said his number one focus now is getting children and teenagers back to school by September.

That has led to fears from publicans that they mightn't be allowed reopen if health officials believe that could lead to a fresh spike in cases ahead of schools reopening at the end of the month.

The Licensed Vintners Association has said a "meaningful compensation package" will be needed if pubs aren't given the green light to reopen next week.

They say that pubs "can't continue to be left in limbo", and that there is currently "intolerable pressure" on publicans, staff and suppliers.

The Vintners' Federation of Ireland, meanwhile, has said if some pubs do not reopen next Monday they may never resume trading again.

NPHET will meet today to consider the current situation, and the Government will later consider the public health advice and decide whether to proceed with phase four.

NPHET decision

Tómas Ryan, Associate Professor at Trinity College's School of Biochemistry & Immunology, said the recent increase in cases means he believes the only thing NPHET can do today is advice delaying the reopening of pubs for at least a few weeks.

However, he said it's a different questions as to what the Government will do.

Speaking on Breakfast Briefing, he explained: "Some people are of the view that NPHET need to balance the public health situation with the economic situation - but of course that's not their job.

"They can and should only be giving public health advice... it's the Government's jobs to balance this with any other considerations.

"Given that the Government have the primary concern of getting the schools open in early September, if I was sitting around the Cabinet table I think I'd be mainly concerned about that."

If approved, phase four of the reopening plan would also see the limits on gatherings increased to up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet is also expected to discuss the introduction of random testing for COVID-19 at airports.

They will also look at the possible removal of some countries from the green list as cases of the virus continue to creep upwards in some countries across Europe.

Main image: File photo of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Minister Eamon Ryan. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

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