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covid concerns Reopening pubs for Christmas could lead to an increase in house parties, Tánaiste says

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Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

The opening of pubs for Christmas could lead to an increase in house parties and higher risk of Covid infection in the population, the Tánaiste has told the Dáil.

"Just because people can gather in a pub, doesn't mean that an equal number of home gatherings won't happen," said Mr Varadkar (inset).

His remarks yesterday came ahead of a full Cabinet meeting today about relaxing hospitality restrictions for Christmas.

Mr Varadkar said the re-opening of pubs, with 'wet' premises closed for more than eight months in Dublin, could lead to a higher number of house parties during the season.

"It's very possible that people having spent a few hours or a night in the pub will then retire to somebody's house and have a party there," the Tánaiste said.

"So I don't think that this idea that if you open the pubs there will be fewer house parties is necessarily true.

"You might actually end up with the same number - or even more, and therefore increase risk."

The comments came in response to Independent TD Michael Lowry, who said that alcohol would be consumed one way or another over Christmas and so responsible publicans would ensure that the proper rules are followed.

They knew how to handle the public and would police their customers, giving a guarantee that the pub would "do it the way it should be done".

"I would say that publicans have generations of experience and are trustworthy," he said.

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Mr Varadkar said the Cabinet Covid subcommittee was meeting yesterday and will report to the full Cabinet meeting "and after that we'll be able to make a decision on what can and cannot reopen in December".

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