Strict rules on indoor gatherings expected to stay in place
COUPLES with summer weddings planned are facing bad news, with the Government expected to leave in place strict rules on indoor gatherings.
It was hoped the rules on indoor events such as weddings and christenings would be eased to allow up to 100 people attend gatherings.
However, a senior Government source said the current rules, which only allow 50 people to attend weddings, are likely to remain in place over concerns about a rise in clusters from indoor events.
The rules on outdoor gatherings are expected to be eased to allow 500 people to attend sports events. This would mean more people will be able to attend GAA and League of Ireland matches.
Ministers are waiting for advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on allowing pubs that do not sell food to reopen before making a final decision.
However, some ministers believe pubs should be allowed to open under strict rules limiting their opening hours and the number of people who can drink in a premises.
A Government source said a decision on pubs would have to be “teased out” by ministers and they expected a “lengthy discussion”.
“The priority is to get the schools open but rural pubs have been putting the case forward for reopening,” a source said.
It is not expected that nightclubs will be allowed to reopen on August 10.
There is concern about the rising amount of new cases and the rate of community transmission. However, the majority of cases can be traced and are linked to clusters in enclosed settings.
Yesterday, Nphet announced 46 new cases of Covid-19 and reported no new deaths.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has taken a cautious approach to the easing of restrictions since he took office and has already postponed the reopening of pubs.
However, ministers in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are eager to find a solution to allow smaller pubs to reopen.
A senior minister said the “general consensus” within Cabinet was that pubs should be allowed to open.
“Is it not better to have lads having their few pints in controlled environments as opposed to sheds, shebeens and house parties?” they said.
Ministers have been lobbied by groups representing publicans and their constituents about the reopening of pubs.
Yesterday, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) called on the Government to allow them to open on August 10, or come up with a “meaningful compensation package” for the 50,000 people working in the industry. LVA chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said pubs across the country cannot “be left in limbo” any longer.
“It’s creating intolerable pressure for publicans, their staff and suppliers,” he said.
“With less than seven days to go until the pubs are due to reopen, we still don’t know what is happening. This is exactly the same situation we were in three weeks ago.”
Meanwhile Dr Jack Lambert, an infectious diseases specialist at Dublin’s Mater Hospital, said Ireland was still fighting a health “emergency” and leadership was needed.
“This is no time for the Government to holiday for six weeks... This is a public health emergency. All TDs and ministers need to put 100pc into fighting Covid-19.
“This is not the time for a long holiday. Two weeks and come back with a plan. This country needs strong leadership right now.”
Licensed Vintners’ Association chief executive Donall O’Keeffe