Cabinet decides all pubs can open from September 21st

Ministers say fourth proposed opening date will not be subject to change or further delays

A protest by members of the Licenced Vintners Association(LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) outside the  Dáil to protest over the delayed  reopening of pubs. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A protest by members of the Licenced Vintners Association(LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) outside the Dáil to protest over the delayed reopening of pubs. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The Cabinet has decided that so called “wet” pubs will reopen on September 21st and the date will not be subject to any change or further delays.

At the first regular meeting of the Cabinet after the resumption of the Dáil, Ministers also discussed the possibility of regional restrictions affecting Dublin and Limerick, where the number of positive Covid-19 cases have been increasing at faster rates than elsewhere.

The Government said it was continuing work on its medium-term plan on the State’s response to the pandemic, which will replace the roadmap which expired in August.

The plan will be finalised at the weekend and is expected to be published on Monday.

It is understood the Cabinet discussed three different dates for re-opening pubs, next Monday, September 14th; September 21st and September 28th.

There was agreement that the September 21st date be chosen and also, not varied.

The reopening of “wet” pubs - namely those which do not serve food - has been subject to repeated delays.

It has led to protests from publicans throughout the State whose premises have been shuttered for six months.

Vintners this afternoon welcomed the decison to allow them to reopen but noted that September 21st was the fourth reopening date provided.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said 3,500 pubs remained closed, affecting approximately 25,000 employees.

In its advice to Government, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) said public houses, especially in rural areas, were a very important part of the fabric of Irish society.

Following the Cabinet meeting, a Government spokeswoman said the reopening would apply to all pubs. If there were any regional restrictions introduced as a result of rising numbers, it would be wider and would affect other businesses and not pubs solely, she added.

One Cabinet source said on Tuesday that Covid-19 would be in Ireland for a long time and the Government needed to balance containing the virus with keeping the economy open.

“We have to be very careful about any notion of lockdown in Dublin,” said the source. “It accounts for one third of the economy so it should be kept open as much as possible.”