Pubs and restaurants will face midnight curfew from Thursday, Cabinet agrees

ireland
Pubs And Restaurants Will Face Midnight Curfew From Thursday, Cabinet Agrees Pubs And Restaurants Will Face Midnight Curfew From Thursday, Cabinet Agrees
Speaking on his way into a Cabinet meeting this morning, the Taoiseach said the situation demanded 'fairly quick action'. Photo: PA Images.
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Pubs and restaurants will be subject to a new closing time of midnight from Thursday, the Cabinet has agreed as the Government discusses new measures to combat a surge in Covid-19.

It is understood there will be a carve out for hotel bars, but other hospitality settings will face the earlier closing time, according to The Irish Times.

A previous curfew of 11.30pm was removed less than a month ago at the end of October. Sources said the hope was the situation could be reassessed in three weeks.

Publicans have in response called for the immediate reintroduction of supports for the sector.

“We were told that if we waited until the majority of the public was vaccinated we would be able to get back to trading. Well we waited and that wasn’t enough,” said Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA).

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“Like the rest of the country, of course we are conscious of the worsening health situation. But this will still be really hard news for those working in the sector to take.

“Late night hospitality was closed for 585 consecutive days, got to open for 27 days and now they face another indefinite period of closure... We will have enormous difficulty retaining our staff after this latest decision.”

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) described the curfew as a “hugely disappointing development for the many late-night pubs and night clubs many of whom will now be forced to shut just three weeks after reopening.”

“The decision to introduce a new closing time of midnight from this Thursday will effectively close many late night pubs and night clubs. It will also seriously restrict other outlets at the most critical time of the year,” said VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben.

“Given the deteriorating health situation it’s no surprise Government is forced to take action but it is disappointing that the hospitality sector is at forefront of those actions. Supports will now be vital for impacted businesses.”

Sombre Cabinet meeting

Sources said the mood at Cabinet was sombre about the situation facing the country. Ministers met this morning to discuss their next steps in response to the growing fourth wave of the virus.

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Proposals expected to be discussed included issuing new advice for people to work from home where possible, expanded guidance on wearing face masks and extending the requirement for Covid certs to gyms and hairdressers.

Booster vaccines to protect against the disease are also expected to roll out to hundreds of thousands of people in their 50s as part of the plan.

Speaking on his way into the Cabinet meeting this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he did not want to pre-empt decisions that would be taken.

He warned that the situation would get worse before it gets better, and said there was an obligation on everyone to reduce social interactions in order to help reduce transmission.

Advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on working from home and other measures was set to be considered at the meeting, he confirmed.

“The overall objective is to prevent people getting very sick, going into hospitals, ICUs. We simply have to limit the increase we are experiencing at the moment,” he said.

The situation demanded “fairly quick action,” Mr Martin added.

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Also speaking on his way into the meeting, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the latest modelling on hospitalisations and ICU admissions was “very stark.”

“If we did nothing and were to continue as is, we could be looking at somewhere between 200 and maybe up to 500 people in ICU. Obviously, that’s not something we could countenance,” he said.

Preliminary modelling presented to the Cabinet Covid subcommittee last night suggests that, based on current levels of socialisation, a peak in cases could range between 5,000 and 12,000 a day, with large case numbers lasting into the new year.

-Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke.

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