'Pubs aren't as important as schools' - Leo Varadkar
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'Pubs aren't as important as schools' - Leo Varadkar

LEO VARADKAR has insisted that schools being open remains a priority for the government and is far more important than pubs being open in Ireland.

The Tanaiste has insisted that pubs must "make a sacrifice for the rest of society."

"I love going to the pub, I'm looking forward to going to the pub again, and nightclubs, but they're not as important as schools," he said.

Varadkar's words will come as a fresh blow to the hospitality industry, who are fighting hard for all pubs across the country to be allowed to reopen.

Pubs which cannot serve food must remain closed until August 31 at the very earliest, but that date could well be pushed back closer to the time.

The likelihood of this happening only grows due to the fact that schools are set to reopen at the end of the month, and Varadkar himself has admitted that outbreaks of coronavirus cases are "inevitable".

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Should Covid-19 cases in Ireland experience more surges, pubs will likely be the first to shut - even those that are able to serve food to their customers.

On Thursday, Varadkar met with representatives from the Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation, to discuss the setup of a 'survival package' for the industry.

It's estimated that around 25,000 people working in 3,500 pubs are currently out of work, and many pubs that have been forced to remain shut since the Covid-19 crisis took hold in Ireland back in March aren't expected to be able to survive if they're forced to remain shut for much longer.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that there are a number of sectors that may not be able to operate or open at all for many months," Varadkar added.

It is my view that those sectors that have been ordered by Government to stay closed, or effectively closed, for reasons of the pandemic will need extra care, extra attention and extra support."