LEO VARADKAR has confirmed that the government is considering delaying the reopening of pubs in Ireland.
Initially scheduled for July 5, pubs may have to face yet another agonising wait to reopen should concerns over the rise in Covid-19 variant cases linger.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the Tanáiste said the growing presence of the Delta variant in Ireland is a "dark cloud on the horizon," and could potentially scupper reopening plans.
While a "final call" won't be made until after government gets the latest advice next week, Mr Varadkar echoed Micheál Martin's earlier comments, where the Taoiseach warned that "nothing could be guaranteed".
"As things stand, the plan is still to ease restrictions on the fifth of July," Varadkar said. "But as is always the case, that final call, that decision won't be made until a few days before.
"We’ll take into account four factors. One, is the number of cases, which is falling, that's encouraging. Another is the hospitals, hospital numbers are going down, which is encouraging.
"Third is the vaccine programme, which is going very well, but we'd like to see those second doses given to people earlier, those people given the AstraZeneca vaccine.
"And fourth is concern around variants and that is the dark cloud on the horizon at the moment."
Ireland's hospitality industry, which has suffered monumentally throughout the pandemic, burst back into life earlier this month as hotels, B&B's and restaurants opened their doors for the first time in over half a year. Pubs reopened too, but only outdoor dining is permitted for the time being.
Under the current road map, indoor dining in pubs and restaurants will be permitted from July 5, as will weddings featuring up to 50 people.
Communions and confirmations are also set to restart next month while visitors from up to three other households will be allowed inside the home.