PUBLICANS in Ireland have expressed complete shock at the government's decision to push back the date for pubs to reopen.
The delay has been described as a "hammer blow" to the hospitality industry, and there are claims it could result in thousands of people losing their jobs.
Initially, the country was due to enter Phase Four of the roadmap to lifting lockdown on Monday, and pubs that have remained shut since March were to swing open their doors again.
But the date has been delayed to August 10 due to the "very real" threat of rising numbers of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) called the decision a "shocking development" that will have huge ramifications for the family-run pubs across the country.
VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said that the majority of pubs in Ireland are rural and their continued closure makes no sense, given that there's little risk of overcrowding in many of them.
"The vast majority of these pubs are small outlets run by families who are on first-name terms with their customers and far removed from crowded venues that concern NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team)," Cribben said.
"As controlled venues, we believe these pubs should be allowed to open as they are far safer than the likes of uncontrolled house parties and pose little threat to public health."
Taoiseach Micheal Martin made the announcement on Wednesday night, insisting that the rise in numbers were a concern, particularly with air travel in and out of Ireland more or less back in full swing.
"The R number, which we have all become familiar with has now risen above one in this country," he said.
"And the international situation with almost a million and a half cases reported in just the last week, represents a growing worry."