Dublin’s drink-only pubs will not reopen next week due to rising Covid cases

Varadkar says rising coronavirus rates in capital will require additional restrictions

Dublin’s drink only-pubs will not be allowed to reopen next week as planned due to rising coronavirus cases in the capital.

The move to delay the September 21st reopening for pubs that don’t serve food in Dublin is due to be signed off by the Cabinet on Tuesday morning as the Government delivers its new Living with Covid-19 five-level plan.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on Monday said the “worrying” increase in coronavirus infections in Dublin would require additional restrictions and a “different response” than in the rest of the country.

Hospital Report

The Government is due to announce a new five-level alert plan to deal with the virus on Tuesday, with the expectation that the country will be placed at Level Two, the second most benign response, with additional restrictions expected for Dublin and the county possibly being set at an escalated restriction Level Three.


The Coalition party leaders met on Monday afternoon. There was also a meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee on the Covid-19 response with the acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn.

Expressing concern about a 20-fold increase in Covid-19 cases in Dublin in the space of a few weeks, Mr Varadkar said the Government would make a decision on restrictions on Tuesday.

“While that has not yet resulted in a dramatic increase in people in hospital or ICUs or deaths, the truth is that it is probably going to head that way if we don’t get on top of it,” he said.

The incidence of Covid-19 in two areas of Dublin has risen above the 100 mark per 100,000 population for the first time since the spring, new figures show.

The 14-day incidence of the virus now stands at 107.5 per 100,000 people in Dublin South-East and 116 in Dublin North-West, according to the latest epidemiological report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Effectively, this means about one person in a thousand in each area has contracted the disease over the past fortnight.

A total of 1,068 cases were notified in Dublin over the two-week period up to last Friday.

Speaking on a visit a leisure centre in Naas, Co Kildare to announce a new grant for reopening businesses across the country, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said he was watching the situation in Spain and Madrid where there has been a surge in new Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations.

“We don’t want to go there. There is an opportunity to turn the curve again, flatten the curve again in Dublin, and we will have to make a decision as Government tomorrow as to what mix of additional restrictions will be required in the Dublin,” he said.

“Based on data, based on the evidence, the situation in Dublin is markedly different from the rest of the country and that will require a different response.”

This would be borne in mind when it comes to whether the Government will approve the reopening of Dublin “wet pubs” that do not serve substantial meals on September 21st, he said.

Mr Varadkar said that the Government was not considering restricted movements experienced in the March-April lockdown for any part of the country but that “some regions and some counties are going to see some local restrictions that were seen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.”

His message to any county that “may be heading into additional restrictions like Dublin” is that that the public can suppress the virus if people work together, he told reporters.

Mr Varadkar said the Government was considering introducing a lower set of fines, running to tens or hundreds of euro, than is currently permitted in legislation for breaches of Covid-19 public health guidelines for gatherings in households.

He said that he believed the “most effective” policy when it comes to suppressing the virus was one of “persuasion” and “trying to bring people with us” rather than “turning Ireland into a police state, by imposing strict laws and fines and locking people up.”

Mr Varadkar said the State was entering “a game of cat and mouse” with the virus involving “local restrictions of different levels being turned on and off for the next couple of months.”

There was “hope on the horizon” with the progress being made on developing a vaccine.

“There is growing confidence that in the first half of the new year we will be in a position to vaccinate older people, those most at risk and healthcare workers and that could change things,” he said.

The Tánaiste said the Government “will need to allow ourselves flexibility over the next couple of months” to change the medium-term plan, if the facts and science on the virus changes.

Dublin South East, which stretches from Baggot Street through Rathmines and Ranelagh to Leopardstown and Sandyford, recorded 126 new cases. Dublin North-West, which stretches from Cabra to Mulhuddart and includes many recently-built areas in west Dublin, recorded 209.

In Dublin South, by contrast, there were 44 new cases, giving a 14-day incidence of just 32.3. Sligo, at 4.6, has the lowest county incidence of the disease, followed by Cork, at 8.1.

Overall in the Republic, 2,016 new cases were notified, giving a national incidence of 42.34. Some 58 patients were hospitalised and two admitted to ICU, and there were four deaths among confirmed cases.

The HSE says there were 57 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Sunday evening, including seven new admissions over the preceding 24 hours. Ten confirmed cases are in ICU, and eight are on ventilators.

Within the hospital system, 59 critical care beds are available and 439 general beds.

Meanwhile, the latest update from the European Centre for Disease Control shows the incidence of the disease is twice that in Germany of Sweden.

Ireland is currently reporting a 14-day incidence of 45.4 to the ECDC, compared to 21.7 in Germany and 22.7 in Sweden.

Most countries in Europe are experiencing a surge in cases at present - with the UK reporting an incidence of 51.1 and Spain having the highest rate, at 270.7.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times