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Varadkar hopes pubs can open on 10 August, but 'can't guarantee it at this stage'

Cabinet will meet on Tuesday to discuss the advice from NPHET.

Leo Varadkar says managing social distancing in pubs might be difficult but not impossible.
Leo Varadkar says managing social distancing in pubs might be difficult but not impossible.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said he hopes pubs can reopen for business on 10 August under Phase 4 of reopening the economy.

His comments come after the CEO of the Vintners Federation of Ireland Padraig Cribben said guidelines on how pubs should be able to reopen need to be released soon to ensure publicans are ready.

Speaking in the Dáil, Varadkar said he could not guarantee that the Cabinet would give the green light for pubs to reopen next month.

“I would like to see pubs and bars open as well on the 10th of August. If it’s possible for them to do so within the public health guidelines, and I hope we’ll be able to make that decision in the affirmative next Tuesday, allowing them to open on the 10th of August, but I can’t guarantee that at this stage.

“I totally agree that pubs offer a huge amount of employment around the country, and also are really important to our social fabric, not just in rural areas, but in urban areas too,” he said.

He said Cabinet would meet on Tuesday to discuss the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

“I just hope that can be decided in the affirmative next week,” he added. 

Varadkar said whether pubs can reopen fully will depend on two things – the advice from NPHET on how to manage social distancing in pubs, and the epidemiological
data.

He said the advice to Cabinet should set out how to open pubs safely, stating that while it might be “difficult to do, but not impossible”.

“I hope it’s a positive decision, but I can’t make that commitment right now,” said Varadkar.

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Cribben told RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney that pubs should be allowed reopen fully as planned on 10 August.

He said many publicans in rural Ireland rely on the money they make in the summer to pay their bills through the winter. He also highlighted how the Australian State of Victoria kept pubs and restaurants open, despite a second wave of Covid-19. 

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