THE HOSPITALITY sector in Ireland has been dealt another huge blow after Leo Varadkar suggested that pubs could remain shut beyond August 10.
Pubs that can't operate as restaurants were due to open on Monday, but thanks to a recent rise in Covid-19 cases, the Irish government have now delayed the country's move into Phase Four of the roadmap.
Speaking in the Dail on Thursday, Tanaiste Varadkar said while August 10 has been pencilled in as the new reopening date, there's no guarantee that pubs will be allowed to do so necessarily on that day.
"I do need to be clear, what we're saying is that pubs and nightclubs will not open any sooner than August 10.
"We're not saying they will open on August 10, we are saying they will open no sooner than August 10 and it will depend on the numbers and on how the virus behaves."
He added that "I know that a lot of people running pubs and hotels will be very disappointed at the decision Government took last night but will acknowledge that the decision was taken for good reasons and that reason was public health."
News that the date to enter Phase Four had been pushed back was met with widespread concern among publicans in Ireland, many of whom fear for their futures due to being shut for so long.
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."