Gardaí to start checking if pubs are ‘ignoring’ Covid-19 guidelines
Two more deaths as coronavirus incidence ‘amongst lowest in Europe’
Only pubs serving hot meals, costing a minimum of €9, can reopen and customers can stay for a maximum of 105 minutes. Photograph: iStock
Gardai are to conduct Covid-19 compliance checks on pubs “ignoring” the rules across the State this weekend.
The operation begins on Friday evening amid concern some establishments are flouting regulations designed to suppress the disease. Bars which serve a substantial meal with drink were allowed to open their doors earlier this week as socialising restrictions eased.
Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said: “It now appears that just a few days after their introduction some licensed premises and their customers are ignoring the public health guidelines. “By doing so, they are putting themselves and everyone they then come into contact with at risk of getting Covid-19. “This is not acceptable and we are now expanding our planned checks.” Pubs operating as restaurants were able to open on Monday, while others must remain closed until July 20th
Senior gardai, industry representative bodies and members of the public have expressed concern some premises and their customers have not adhered to the guidelines.
The deputy commissioner added: “When licensed premises were initially shut under the public health guidelines An Garda Siochana checked thousands of licensed premises to ensure they remained closed, which the vast, vast majority did. “Our intention in this latest phase was to conduct a large number of spot-checks of licensed premises.”
Taoiseach Micheal Martin chaired a meeting on Friday of Government ministers and promised “strong enforcement”. A Government statement expressed concern that pubs operating as restaurants should continue to operate in accordance with public health guidelines.
“The Government will review a report on compliance from the relevant state authorities, including An Garda Siochana, the public health, and health and safety authorities, at its meeting on Monday,” it said.
“Strong enforcement measures will be taken against premises that are not operating in accordance with public health guidelines.”
New guidance has also been developed for religious services with attendance of more than 50 permitted in certain circumstances.
An assessment will have to be carried out for each premises to determine how many can attend within the requirements of social distancing.
The premises will also have to be subdivided into distinct sections, either by cordons or other markings, with a maximum of 50 people in that area. There will have to be a minimum of four metres between those sections. There can be strictly no movement of people between the sections before, during or after the service.
Each area must have its own entrance or exit route and there will need to be separate arrangements for elements of the service involving close contact such as for the distribution of Holy Communion. The premises will also need to be well-ventilated. Those providing religious services will also be asked to ensure that there are staggered exit times. The use of face coverings in such indoor settings will also be “strongly recommended.”
It also said the main item on the agenda was the framework for international travel. “Recommendations will now be referred for discussion and decision by the Government at the cabinet meeting on Monday next,” it said.
Earlier the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) reported another two people diagnosed with Covid-19 have died. This brings to the total number of deaths related to the disease in the Republic to 1,740.
Nphet also reported a further nine new cases of the disease, bringing the total number of confirmed cases here to 25,498 .
Dr Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer said; “Ireland’s 14 day incidence of Covid-19 is now less than 3 cases per 100,000. This is amongst the lowest in Europe and demonstrates that the disease remains suppressed in our communities. The key to maintaining this status is responsible individual behaviours and avoiding any complacency.”
“HIQA’s report on mortality today demonstrates that we have comprehensively recorded deaths relating to Covid-19 in Ireland by following the recommended WHO approach.
“We have consistently recorded and published data on all deaths where a person had Covid-19 or was suspected to have Covid-19. This reporting gives us a robust understanding of the impact of the disease in Ireland and continues to inform our response.”
Dr Glynn was referring to a report which said Ireland’s official death toll from Covid-19 may have been overstated, according to a new report that says there was a 13 per cent increase in deaths during the pandemic.
Between 1,100 and 1,200 more deaths than would have been expected on historical patterns occurred between March 11th and June 16th, according to the report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).
However, this is substantially lower than the 1,709 Covid-19 deaths officially reported toNPHET over this period.