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Cabinet will discuss the easing of restrictions under Phase Four tomorrow. Sam Boal

NPHET concerns throw plans to reopen bars next week into doubt

Under Phase Four, all pubs, bars, hotel bars and casinos are permitted to reopen.

LAST UPDATE | 14 Jul 2020

CONCERN HAS BEEN expressed  to the government by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) about the planned reopening of all pubs on Monday.

It is understood that while there was no specific recommendation on whether to reopen or not, the team raised issues around the recent increase in case numbers, particularly in young people.

Phase Four of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions is due to kick in on Monday, subject to Cabinet approval tomorrow evening.

The main changes under Phase Four allow for the reopening of:

  • pubs, bars, hotel bars and casinos;
  • gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors.

Earlier today, the Taoiseach indicated there were concerns over gatherings of people, particularly house parties where 30 or 40 people are attending.

Today, no Covid-related deaths were reported - the third day in a row this has occurred.

NPHET confirmed a further 32 cases, bringing the total number of cases in Ireland to 25,670. 

Yesterday, 11 new cases were confirmed, while 17 were reported on Sunday and 23 on Saturday.

Prior to today’s latest figures being released, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar strongly indicated that pubs would be given the green light to reopen on 20 July.

However, government sources state this evening that there is now uncertainty about what will be decided tomorrow.

“I do hope it will be possible for them to reopen. I know there has been an uptick in the number of Covid cases in the last week or two but it is still in the teens or about 20 per day,” Varadkar had said. “We did think there would be a slight increase in cases as we eased restrictions. I don’t think the increase has been so enormous that at this stage it prevents us from moving to stage four.”

The Tánaiste added that he could not state whether the Cabinet decision to reopen Phases Four sectors would be “affirmative” or “negative”, adding it “isn’t a decision for me on my own”.

Varadkar said the government did anticipate that there would be “spikes and clusters” with the reopening of the country, but indicated there wouldn’t be a nationwide lockdown again.

Varadkar’s comments follow on from Coveney yesterday stating that he too was hopeful the government could move ahead with the reopening of the country under Phase 4 next week.

He told reporters at Dublin Castle that the government would take public health advice into consideration when making such decisions “both on international travel as well as on pubs and gatherings, both indoors and outdoors”.

“That is how the previous government and now this government has approached each of these decisions,” he said.

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