Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that it is possible that the wider reopening of pubs could be postponed beyond August 10.
The tánaiste's statement follows the government's announcement earlier this week that the wider reopening of pubs will not take place on July 20, as previously planned.
The postponement of the wider reopening of pubs is due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
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Rte.ie quotes Varadkar as saying, "We are not saying they will open on the 10th of August. We are saying they will open no sooner than the 10th of August. And it will depend on the numbers and on how the virus behaves between now and then.
"I know that a lot of people - people running pubs and hotels - will be very disappointed at the decision the government took last night, but will acknowledge that the decision was taken for good reasons - and that was reason of public health."
Possibility Of Additional Grant Aid
Speaking about the possibility of more grant aid for pubs, Varadkar said, "I'm looking at whether we can make the Restart Grant better and more attractive, particularly for those who need it most, which is the hospitality sector, including pubs."
The Restart Grant is a payment of €2,000 to €10,000 meant to help small business with costs related to reopening following COVID-19-related closures.
Varadkar also said that the government is considering extending the Wage Subsidy Scheme and making it available to people who have not previously been covered by it, such as seasonal workers.
The Licensed Vintners Assocation (LVA) has asked the government to commit to the following measures for the pub sector:
- grant aid for pubs based on their licence band, with a minimum of €20,000 rising to €50,000 for 2020;
- the continuation of the Wage Subsidy Scheme for pubs for as long as social distancing restrictions apply;
- a cut in the VAT rate for on-trade alcohol until the end of the year;
- and the abolition of commercial rates for 2020.
Prioritising Schools And Healthcare Facilities
Meanwhile, health minister Stephen Donnelly said that public health advice shows that reopening pubs now could "materially add to the possibility of a second wave" of COVID-19, and that the government is prioritising the reopening of schools and healthcare facilities.
Donnelly stated, "We are essentially prioritising schools, healthcare facilities and the economy over the accelerated opening of the pubs.
"This was not done lightly. We really do understand that there are publicans waiting and hoping that they would be able to open on Monday [July 20].
"But the public health advice is, were we to open them right now, it could materially add to the possibility of a second wave, and that's just not a risk we could take."
Face Coverings In Shops
Talking about the need to wear face coverings in shops, Donnelly said that the government's decision that people should wear face coverings in retail settings is based on public health advice and additional measures, and that legislation is currently being prepared to make the wearing of face coverings while visiting shops compulsory.
The government is also still advising against non-essential overseas travel, and there will be an increased staff presence at airports and ports to inform incoming travellers of their obligations, including the requirement to quarantine for two weeks.
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