Ireland again delays pub reopenings as virus cases climb

Ireland on Tuesday further put back the end of its coronavirus lockdown with prime minister Micheal Martin announcing that “pubs, bars, hotel bars, night clubs and casinos will remain closed”.

He acknowledged the delay would come as a “bitter disappointment” to many, but that a rise in cases at home and abroad meant the focus was still on “keeping the pressure on the virus”.

“I know this will come as a blow to publicans,” Martin added.

He also announced that the current limits on crowds of 200 for outdoors and 50 for indoors would remain in place, while face coverings will be mandatory in shops from August 10.

Under an accelerated version of the government’s original plan to leave lockdown, Ireland had been set to enter the fourth and final stage of restrictions relaxing three weeks ago, but delayed due to a rise in cases.

Even though the numbers remain relatively low, they are still on the rise and scientists advised the government to extend the delay for at least another three weeks.

As Ireland raised the tempo of its plan to end lockdown in June, those of its 7,000 pubs serving food were allowed to open on June 29.

It is the remaining drinking-only establishments which are still shut.

“I wish I was in the position to share better news today, but I am not…evidence of increased transmission is even clearer,” said Martin.

There have been several days where no deaths have been registered but since the country began reopening, the number of infections has risen.

Public health officials have expressed particularly concern about new cases among younger people.