Pub reopening date set to be pushed back with indoor dining return on July 5 now 'very unlikely'

Pub reopening date set to be pushed back with indoor dining return on July 5 now 'very unlikely'

IRELAND'S pubs are set for another brutal setback with the return of indoor dining set to be delayed again.

According to Ireland's roadmap, customers will be allowed back inside pubs and restaurants on July 5, but a sharp rise in Delta variant cases has forced a re-think.

Concerns at senior levels of government, as well as within the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), mean that the easing of certain restrictions will likely be delayed, in a crushing blow to Ireland's hospitality sector.

Sources indicate that it is "highly likely" that NPHET will recommend an extension beyond July 5, though nothing will be confirmed until next week.

On Thursday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that he'd spoken with Dr Tony Holohan, Ireland's chief medical officer, about the rise in Delta variant cases.

He stressed that when pubs, bars and restaurants are eventually allowed to open properly, it needs to be permanent. As such, a cautious approach to the reopening plan was imperative.

"Well, first of all, we've had a very successful reopening," the Taoiseach told Virgin Media.

"What I've said consistently is that anything we open, we want to keep open. The chief medial officer was in discussion with me yesterday, he is concerned about the Delta variant.

Martin confirmed that no decision on extending lockdown measures had been made yet, but warned that if Delta variant case numbers continue to rise, then action will need to be taken, even if it's unpopular.

"I fully appreciate that it's been a devastating year for anybody in the hospitality sector, travel sector and in tourism because of the pandemic. But as I said, there's a process that's always in place in terms of decision making," he said.

"I can't speculate right now in relation to it, other than say it is an area of concern to the CMO and everyone.

"Anything we open, we want to keep open. We don't want to be going backwards," Martin stressed.