IRISH PUBS could resume indoor trade by as early as July, according to the Taoiseach.
Micheal Martin is predicting that indoor pints could be back on the menu within months as part of the Government’s plans for the gradual reopening of the Irish economy.
Speaking to Newstalk’s Pat Kenny, Martin predicted that pints of Guinness and other selected Irish alcoholic beverages could be served indoors “towards the end of July”.
Under the current plans, outdoor dining is due to resume from June 7, five days after hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs return.
"The indoor pint [will return] certainly not in May or June,” Martin said.
“Whether in July, it may be possible towards the end of July and I think it's within that timeframe.
"It's a possibility. I don't want to be nailing my colours to the mast on that, but by then we will have very significant numbers of people vaccinated."
The move would signal the first time that many pubs across Ireland have reopened in more than a year, with the entire industry forced to shutter back in March 2020.
Pubs may not be the only thing resuming in the summer either with the Taoiseach hinting that summer holidays could also be “possible” provided the EU’s vaccine passport scheme is in place.
“So, it’s possible in July, August, that travel will be possible, given the fact that vaccination would have happened all over Europe,” he said, adding that Ireland would be "full participants" in the EU Green Passport scheme.
Reflecting on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Martin told RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland that the country had “done well” so far.
"The steps are necessary because the overriding consideration will always be the protection of public health and life,"” he said.
"In that context Ireland has done well, relatively speaking, so far in this pandemic compared to others.
"The overwhelming of the hospital and healthcare system, all over the world, is always a key metric.
"We have taken the pressure off the health service.
"The vaccination programme, that is the other key factor here, which is having a transformative impact on the cohorts that have been vaccinated so far, so the evidence is good in terms of reducing severe illness, reducing mortality and indeed transmission amongst those who have been vaccinated."
While Martin has also expressed confidence that 82% of the population will have had at least one jab by the end of June, health officials are continuing to urge caution.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that while “the easing of restrictions is a welcome and deserved turning point” some areas of Ireland remain in a precarious position.
“Incidence around the country varies. Some areas are in a more precarious position than others,” he said.
“For example, while the national incidence rate is 125 per 100,000, Donegal currently stands at 295 per 100,000. This is extremely concerning for public health doctors locally.
“We are calling on community leaders in areas such as Donegal, where the virus is still circulating at dangerous levels, to encourage the people there to stick with the public health measures, especially if they are vulnerable or have yet to be vaccinated.”