Ireland to allow pubs to open their doors

The Irish government postponed a scheduled mid-July re-opening of pubs three times.
The Irish government postponed a scheduled mid-July re-opening of pubs three times.

Pubs can resume pouring pints from September 21, Ireland's government has announced, ending a prohibition introduced in March as part of a pandemic lockdown.

As pub owners protested in Dublin on Tuesday, Science Minister Simon Harris told media the re-opening is being allowed as "the risk, from a public health point of view, in such pubs is no greater now than in other settings".

"About time." the Licensed Vinters' Association, an industry group, said on Twitter.

"Absolute relief," said Mellett's, a pub in the west of Ireland.

Citing health worries, the government postponed a scheduled mid-July re-opening three times, though restaurants and pubs serving food were allowed to open from June 29.

Another 3500 pubs have had to wait, prompting anger among owners left out of pocket after restocking ahead of postponed re-openings.

"We have been marched up this hill several times before," said Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland, in a statement on Tuesday.

The government has removed and reintroduced restrictions in response to fluctuations in new daily coronavirus case numbers, which have topped 200 three times since mid-August after falling to low double digits in June.

The current regime, which allows 50 people inside restaurants but only 15 at outdoor events such as football matches, has been criticised as incoherent.

There are 48 people in hospital in Ireland who have tested positive for the virus, according to official statistics.

Australian Associated Press