Strict rules on in­door gath­er­ings ex­pected to stay in place

Irish Independent - - News | Coronaviru­s Emergency - Philip Ryan and Laura Lynott

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

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