OFFIE THEIR HEADS
Booze sales under threat over ‘parties fuelling virus’ Level 5 lockdown ‘within days’ as crisis talks continue
OFF LICENCE trading was in doubt last night as Government considered tighter Level 5 rules.
The Cabinet discussed reduced opening while Minister Robert Troy insisted on looking at “restrictions up to and possibly including closure”.
As a record 1,276 cases were confirmed, a vintners’ spokesman warned retail booze sales were “fuelling house parties that are the main cause of these Covid
infections”. The Vintners Federation of Ireland said it was unfair that pubs, which are controlled environments, are being punished while alcohol for house parties can continue to be sold in off licences.
A spokesman told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “Pubs are already at Level 4 so any change in restrictions in the coming days will probably have little impact on the sector that is reduced to serving 15 customers outdoors.
“The off licences remained open during the last lockdown and will probably remain open even if we move to Level 5.
“The problem with off licences is they are fuelling the house gatherings that are the main cause of Covid infections.”
But the Licensed Vintners Association, which represents publicans in Dublin, said it would not support restrictions on off licences.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fail Minister of State for Trade Promotion Robert Troy said the Government should consider banning booze sales from off licences and supermarkets.
He told RTE’S Katie Hannon: “We need to look at how we could restrict the opening hours, maybe introduce a quota system. So many public health experts have said the virus loves alcohol.”
Dr Anne Dee, a public health consultant at the HSE, told RTE Ireland’s health service could very quickly be overwhelmed and be in a similar situation to Italy this year.
She said: “It’s not impossible, we just need to keep going the rate we’re going.
“The trajectory is very frighteningly upwards. A lot of it does go back to socialising, mixing and consumption of alcohol.”
FACING CLOSURE Off licenses under fire in talks last night
STRICT Minister Robert Troy
WARNING Dr Anne Dee