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16.15 3 Sep 2020


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Only five outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported in pubs since the start of the pandemic.

That's according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre which has recorded 2,736 outbreaks in other settings like nursing homes, workplaces and private houses.

It comes as legislation that will allow Gardaí to close pubs on the spot for breaching COVID-19 restrictions was debated in the Dáil again today.

The Justice Minister Helen McEntee said it "paves the way" for the reopening of pubs that do not serve food.

The CEO of the Licensed Vintners' Association Donal O’Keefe believes that publicans cannot wait much longer, and that pubs should reopen the minute new Garda powers come into force.

The re-opening date for pubs not serving food has been delayed a number of times and they are due to remain shut until at least September 13th.

However, Kerry TD and publican Danny Healy Rae says the legislation being discussed in the Dáil is pointless without guidelines in place.

He told The Pat Kenny Show: "We do not have the rules or regulations that will apply to the wet pubs and that's why I'm not voting to give the Minister power or to give anyone else powers for rules or regulations that are not yet in place."

'Not the right time'

However, the HSE's Chief Clinical Officer insists now is not the right time for pubs that don't serve food to reopen.

Dr Colm Henry, a member of NPHET, says the experiences of other countries highlight the dangers these settings can pose.

He said: "I can't think specifically here of a major outbreak associated with a pub because of the restrictions that have been in place

"We've drawn unfortunate lessons from international experience in Melbourne and Aberdeen where there was a rapid large number of cases emerging from fairly light transmission in congregated settings, in pubs, a lesson which unfortunately could be replicated anywhere."

He said it is still too soon for pubs to reopen as schools have just returned.

He added: "Now, with the reopening of schools and with the trends that we have seen in recent weeks, now is not the right time."

Tánaiste

However, the Tánaiste says he wants to see pubs open.

Leo Varadkar says he believes publicans will be able to manage their businesses in a way that won't put public health at risk.

Speaking to Live 95, he said he has confidence that publicans can make it work.

“The fact that wet pubs are open in every country in Europe now, albeit with restrictions, and we’ve also seen how restaurateurs and gastropubs have done a really good job.

“Pubs serving food and restaurants have been open for months now, there are very few examples of clusters of infections in restaurants and gastropubs.

“They’ve shown that they can actually follow the rules and regulations, albeit with a few notable exceptions, and I'd like publicans to be given the chance to do it as well.”


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Colm Henry Coronavirus Covid-19 Leo Varadkar Pub Reopening Pubs Wet Pubs

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