There's a good case for rural pubs to be allowed reopen, according to Professor Luke O'Neill.
However, the leading immunologist has warned that is not the case with pubs in big cities.
Cabinet will make a decision later today on whether pubs will be allowed reopen next Monday as part of the fourth phase of restrictions being eased.
However, the recent spike in new coronavirus cases in recent days has led to concerns that the reopening could be further delayed.
Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Professor O'Neill - professor of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin - said the rural pub is a "low-risk environment".
He explained that virus levels are "very low" in rural communities, and that publicans in those areas can hopefully help control people and crowds as he or she knows the locals.
He said: "They will of course have to observe the guidelines... but small numbers of people, social distancing, if possible an outdoor component, ventilation... it's not an ideal environment, but the case for reopening rural pubs is quite strong, I think.
"It's still risky, remember. But you're counter-balancing the community needs of these places: it's essential that these place open for rural communities. That kind of justifies the slight risk of it.
"Big city pubs... forget it. I think that's still a big risk. The alcohol as we know does not go well with social distancing."
Professor O'Neill said it's "more difficult to monitor and police" people in bigger pubs or in big crowds.
The immunologist said he has "huge sympathy" for publicans, as it is the one sector that's "really suffering" due to the ongoing restrictions.
He said: "It's terrible. They need to be compensated, because they're being picked on - for good reasons, scientific reasons."
Publicans themselves have insisted the Government must introduce a ‘meaningful support package’ for pubs if they are not allowed to reopen from next week.
Main image: File photo. Picture by: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport
This article has been updated. Read more here