The Irish government has called on all bars and pubs in the country to close to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement, the government said: “Following discussions today with the Licenced Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), the Government is now calling on all public houses and bars (including hotel bars) to close from this evening (Sunday 15th March) until at least 29 March.
‘The LVA and VFI outlined the real difficulty in implementing the published Guidelines on Social Distancing in a public house setting, as pubs are specifically designed to promote social interaction in a situation where alcohol reduces personal inhibitions.
‘For the same reason, the Government is also calling on all members of the public not to organise or participate in any parties in private houses or other venues which would put other people’s health at risk.’
The move means no bars will be open in the area for St Patrick’s Day, one of the busiest days in the Irish tourism calendar.
Martin Harte, of the Temple Bar Company, said the decision was taken voluntarily as ‘this is the owners of all pubs sitting down and deciding this is the best thing to do in terms of public health and safety’.
Mr Harte said the problem is that social distancing and limiting of numbers is impossible to enforce in bars.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has urged people who socialised in pubs and clubs at the weekend to avoid the elderly and people with chronic diseases, to stop the spread of Covid-19.
He tweeted: ‘No indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people applies to pubs & clubs. Have asked NPHET for further expert guidance on this. May seek enforcement powers from Dail/Seanad.’
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