LEO VARADKAR has warned that Ireland's pubs may have to stay closed until the end of March, and could even still be closed in April.
The Tánaiste spoke at a media briefing on Wednesday following the Government's announcement about the implementation of a number of new lockdown measures, including the temporary closure of schools, and the constriction industry.
He said that while the unpredictable nature of Covid-19 makes accurate projections difficult, it's unlikely that society will open in any major way in the next month or two.
"It's very hard to make predictions and projections," Varadkar said.
"I think any time we do when it comes to Covid there's about a 50% chance you're going to be proven wrong and this is a virus that has torn up our plans on many occasions."
He did however stress that it was "probable" that many businesses could remain shut for a number of months, including pubs and restaurants.
"Speaking as the Minister for Enterprise to people who run a business, if I was running a business now I would be thinking that it's a possibility that I'll be closed until the end of March," he said.
On Wednesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the nation to "forget about takeaway pints" as he openly discouraged people from drinking on the streets, despite the closure of the hospitality sector.
"No one should be selling pints right on the street, no one should be gathering," Martin said.
"This is a very serious situation. Nobody should be selling takeaway alcohol, it leads to gatherings."