Europe

Coronavirus: Pubs asked to close by Irish government

A drink being poured in the pub Image copyright Getty Images

The Irish government has called on pubs and bars to close from Sunday to help tackle coronavirus.

Mass gatherings are banned in the Republic of Ireland, but pubs and bars have remained open.

Over the weekend, videos emerged of large numbers of people in pubs in the country.

On Sunday the government confirmed 40 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total in the Republic of Ireland to 169.

Two people in the country have died after being infected.

The request to close pubs until 29 March followed discussions with industry representatives who outlined the difficulty of implementing social distancing while pubs remain open.

The government also asked people not to hold house parties, as doing so "would put other peoples' health at risk".

On Sunday, 11 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total number of cases to 45.

'Reckless behaviour'

Over the weekend a series of clips circulated on social media of busy pubs in the Republic of Ireland.

One clip showing a crowded bar, purporting to have been taken in a pub in Dublin's Temple Bar area, was tweeted by Irish Heath Minister Simon Harris.

In his post, Mr Harris described it as an "insult" to the efforts of healthcare workers.

"Not far from here, nurses & doctors are working to prepare for the impact of a global pandemic. Everyone is working 24/7," he wrote.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pubs and bars in Temple Bar in Dublin have already closed

Earlier on Sunday, Temple Bar publicans in Dublin have announced a complete shutdown of all bars and nightclubs with immediate effect.

On Sunday, the Irish government said having consulted with the chief medical officer, it was an "essential public health measure given the reports of reckless behaviour by some members of the public in certain pubs last night".

"While the government acknowledges that the majority of the public and pub owners are behaving responsibly, it believes it is important that all pubs are closed in advance of St. Patrick's Day," it said.

The Licenced Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland, representative bodies for the pub and hospitality industry in the Republic, were consulted in the decision to request the closure.

Both support the closure.

The government has said the guidelines of social distancing in other parts of the leisure industry, including restaurants and cinemas, would be reviewed and subject to consultation in the coming days.

More on this story