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Phase Four postponed: Pubs to stay closed, five destinations taken off Green List, and masks mandatory in shops from 10 August

“I wish I was in a position to share better news today, but I am not,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said after Cabinet met.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated Aug 4th 2020, 7:01 PM

THE GOVERNMENT HAS decided against allowing pubs that don’t serve food to reopen on 10 August, delaying their reopening for a second time.

Hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will also remain closed; this will be reviewed again on 31 August. 

“I know this will come as a bitter disappointment to many people… I know this will come as a blow to pub owners,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said, adding that Ireland’s number of cases per 100,000 had tripled between July and August (from 2.5 to 7.5).

“International evidence shows very clearly that pubs and nightclubs reopening too early leads directly and inextricably to an increase in community transmission,” Martin said.

When asked whether pubs will be able to open at all this year, Martin said that it depends on the way in which the virus spreads: “We can’t give any guarantees right now.”

In a new measure, restaurants and pubs that are open now will need to ensure that all customers are off the premises by 11pm, but can still produce takeaways after this time.

Face coverings will also be made mandatory in shops and shopping centres from next Monday, 10 August.

Following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) this morning, Cabinet met today at 4pm and discussed two contentious subjects related to Covid-19 restrictions.

The first is whether to move to Phase Four on 10 August, and allow pubs that don’t serve food to reopen for the first time since March.

Some pubs that serve food were allowed to open on 29 June as part of Phase Three.

With the requirement to have a substantial meal during a limited time period at these pubs, public health experts viewed them as restaurants for the purposes of how the virus spreads.

All other pubs were originally meant to reopen on 20 July as part of Phase Four, but this was postponed until 10 August. After an increase in cases, and with advice from NPHET taken into account, Cabinet has decided to delay the reopening of over 3,500 pubs again.

The Taoiseach said: “I want [pub owners] to know, that I have enormous sympathy for their plight. 

This virus is taking away their ability to earn a living. It is stopping them from providing a key service in the heart of many communities.

The number of people allowed to gather outdoors at organised events is to stay at 200, and indoor gatherings will remain limited to 50 (as part of Phase Four, those limits were to increase to 500 and 100 respectively).

There were 85 confirmed Covid-19 cases on Thursday, followed by 38 on Friday, 45 on Saturday, 53 on Sunday, and 46 yesterday. There were 45 new confirmed cases today.

Cabinet also reviewed Ireland’s travel ‘green list’, or the list of countries Irish people can travel to without restricting their movements on their return.

The Taoiseach confirmed this evening that Cyprus, Malta, Gibraltar, Monaco, and San Marino have been removed from Ireland’s green list. Anyone travelling to Ireland from those countries will now have to limit their movements for 14 days upon their arrival.

“While we have reopened our society and economy to a significant degree, one thing has not changed. The virus has not changed. It remains as virulent as ever and is constantly on the search for new people to infect. It remains completely indiscriminate in its cruelty.”

But as dangerous as it is, we have shown that we can beat it. Each one of us has the power to suppress it.

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He urged people to wash their hands repeatedly, to wear mask in public settings, to practice good coughing and sneezing etiquette, to maintain a social distance, to limit your close contacts, and to download the government’s Covid-19 app.

To date, 1.5 million people have downloaded the app – with 1.2 million people providing a mobile number (45.34% are on iOS and 54.66% on Android).

The HSE told TheJournal.ie that download rates within Ireland are among the highest when compared internationally, and would regard this as “a successful launch” as a result.

- With reporting from Christina Finn.

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