Ireland's new Taoiseach Micheál Martin has warned that the plan to reopen all pubs on July 20th could be delayed, as it is essential "to put public health first."
Restaurants, hotels, cafés and pubs that serve food began to open on June 29th as part of Phase Three of Ireland's roadmap to reopen the country. Licensed premises that don't serve food are due to open on July 20th, along with the remainder of the country, while pubs that serve food were allowed to open last week as long as patrons purchased a 'significant meal' priced €9 or more.
The government has called for both patrons and establishments to be responsible as Ireland cautiously reopens, but footage shared widely on social media over the weekend showed large groups of people in the Dame Lame area of Dublin city centre consuming takeaway pints, dancing along to music from an outdoor DJ and blatantly disregarding governmental social distancing guidelines.
READ MORE: In the kitchen with Finn Ni Fhaolain
Gardai walking around the streets in Dublin City Centre to make sure pubs are not breaking the guidelines on social distancing, serving food or time limits etc
Yet this is allowed on Dame Lane..... pic.twitter.com/4inEgsY2Rm— Barry Whyte (@BarryWhyte85) July 4, 2020
Speaking to Cork's 96FM on Monday morning about the shocking footage, the Taoiseach said that the situation was "very worrying".
"As you know the full opening was to take place on 20 July… it could be delayed if they don’t behave," Martin said this morning. "We will get advice from the public health officials but we are worried about it. We have to put public health first. That is the overarching issue. The only way we can get the economy back is if we keep COVID-19 down. Any change to this would be a disaster for the country."
He added that the opening hours and the off-site consumption rules were not being followed in some cases. The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) subsequently condemned this, claiming that it completely "jeopardises public health".
Responding to the footage, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that as of last night, 6,000 premises had been checked by gardaí across the country.
“What we found were that the vast majority were compliant. We did find breaches of the regulations. We also found breaches of the licensing laws, in a minority of cases.”
Former health minister Simon Harris also expressed concern surrounding pubs reopening in recent days. “C’mon everyone. We’ve come too far to go back,” he tweeted.
Martin also said that a formal decision on travel restrictions in Ireland is expected to be made later on Monday.
C’mon everyone. We’ve come too far to go back. Great to see our economy reopened & social life resuming but let’s keep using our cop on & common sense. We owe it to each other, to those families who have lost loved ones, to the local business we want to keep open & to our kids https://t.co/zcoeWkETUg— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) July 5, 2020
This article was originally published by our sister website Irish Tatler.