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Dry spell Wet pubs may be forced to stay closed until March 2021

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Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has asked the public to protect elderly relatives from Covid-19 during Christmas. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has asked the public to protect elderly relatives from Covid-19 during Christmas. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has asked the public to protect elderly relatives from Covid-19 during Christmas. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Pubs that do not serve food may not be permitted to reopen until March, the Irish Independent has learnt.

So-called wet pubs have been closed since the Government’s first lockdown in March this year.

And now it is expected they will not be allowed to reopen until at least the same month next year.

The news will be a major blow to publicans who have been seeking to reopen their doors for months.

Three senior Government sources centrally involved in the Covid-19 response said they do not expect wet pubs to open for months.

A Cabinet minister said they hope pubs could reopen for St Patrick’s Day next year but that is not certain.

Another Cabinet minister said: “Unfortunately it is highly unlikely we’ll see them reopen in the coming months because the data shows even opening pubs that serve food leads to a rise in new cases.”

Another senior source said they “can’t see” pubs opening for at least another three months.

The Cabinet is tomorrow expected to discuss closing restaurants and pubs that serve food for a period from December 30.

The decision comes after the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) recommended closing the hospitality sector from December 28.

Yesterday, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan urged people to “stay away” from pubs and restaurants to “protect yourself and those you love”.

Covid-19 figures have escalated with 764 new cases leading Dr Holohan to ask citizens if they need to “sacrifice” staying away from older loved ones this Christmas to save lives.

Case numbers have rocketed in recent days and yesterday’s figures, including four new deaths, saw Dr Holohan, issuing a moral question to the country.

“If you have been socialising in the past few weeks or over this weekend, consider your Christmas plans carefully,” Dr Holohan said.

“Is it responsible to meet with your family over 65 later this week, if you have not kept your contacts low?

“Should you cancel your plans? We have the very real prospect of Covid-19 vaccines on the horizon.

“Ensure that your loved ones stay alive to receive them by keeping your distance from them if you have not restricted your movements to this point.

“As difficult as it may seem, staying away from older family this Christmas will protect them and it would be an exceptional sacrifice made for the common good.”

Dr Holohan added: “Every indicator of disease severity is moving in the wrong direction, more rapidly than we had anticipated.

“We have particularly strong concerns about the prospect of inter-generational mixing around the festive season.”

He said that by December 11, the seven-day incidence rate for those aged between 19 and 44 was 106 per 100,000 population.

By Saturday it had more than doubled to 217.

“If these younger people come into contact with their loved ones over the age of 65, we could see a spike in infections in this more vulnerable group,” Dr Holohan said.

“This would lead to a very serious pattern of disease, hospitalisations, ICU admissions and unnecessary deaths.”

Some 284 cases were recorded in Dublin, 70 in Limerick, 52 in Donegal, 44 in Cork, 37 in Wexford and the remaining 277 cases are spread across another 20 counties.

As of 2pm yesterday, 233 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised and 29 of these were in intensive care units, while 15 additional hospitalisations had taken place in the previous 24 hours. There have been 2,158 Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland.

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Irish Independent


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