DUBLIN (Reuters) – The Irish government delayed on Tuesday the planned reopening of all pubs in Dublin following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the capital, but bars across the rest of the country will be allowed to open next Monday.
Ireland is moving to wind down some of the most cautious COVID-19 restrictions in Europe, but a seven-fold increase in infections since the start of August has prompted the government to delay some measures.
Bars that serve food have been allowed to open since the end of June, but so-called “wet bars” that just serve drinks remain closed.
“Wet bars will open on the 21st (of September) for the rest of the country but the very strong advice we got from the public health doctors was, given what is happening in Dublin, just don’t do that for now,” Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said.
Ireland has registered 48.5 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, the 17th highest of 31 countries monitored by the European Union’s independent European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, but the rate in Dublin is double that.
Pub lobby group the Licensed Vintners Association said it was “devastated and disappointed” by the move.
The government unveiled a new five-level system of COVID restrictions on Tuesday and said the whole country was currently on the second lowest level.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries, Editing by Timothy Heritage)